NASA Is Cracking Open a 50-Year-Old Vacuum-Sealed Tube of Lunar Gas And Soil

The Apollo missions to the Moon brought a total of 2,196 rock samples to Earth. But NASA has only just started opening one of the last ones, collected 50 years ago.

For all that time, some tubes were kept sealed so that they could be studied years later, with the help of the latest technical breakthroughs. 

NASA knew science and technology would evolve and allow scientists to study the material in new ways to address new questions in the future, 

Dubbed 73001, the sample in question was collected by astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt in December 1972, during the Apollo 17 mission – the last of the program. 

Of the only two samples to have been vacuum sealed on the Moon, this is the first to be opened. 

In the spring, the rock will then be carefully extracted and broken up so that it can be studied by different scientific teams. 

In the spring, the rock will then be carefully extracted and broken up so that it can be studied by different scientific teams. 

After 73001, there will be only three lunar samples still sealed. When will they in turn be opened?

Artemis is NASA's next moon mission; the agency wants to send humans back to the Moon in 2025.

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