For the first time since they have been collected in the course of the Apollo 17 mission, several samples of moon rocks can be opened and examined this summer time. A College of Tennessee-Knoxville professor, Molly McCanta, will probably be one in every of a handful of researchers working with the samples via a NASA analysis program. As a part of the Apollo Subsequent Technology Pattern Evaluation Program, examples which have by no means been uncovered to Earth’s environment can be unsealed and examined. This system is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first moon touchdown, the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.McCanta, a professor of mineralogy and petrology, stated this venture is “the primary of its form,” and affords a fantastic alternative to make use of fashionable know-how on samples from the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.McCanta, who might be working with professors and researchers on the College of Massachusetts and Argonne Nationwide Laboratory, mentioned it is positively a gaggle effort.
The group will search for the existence of hydrogen and water within the samples. Their pattern will probably be a “drive core” that has soil and particulate from 1.5 meters under the floor, so McCanta mentioned they could even be trying to see if the number of hydrogen adjustments with depth.”We have at all times assumed the moon is dry,” McCanta mentioned. “There’s not water on the moon. However, the entire rocks appeared dry, and there weren’t minerals that had water in them. We could not discover any proof of water.”
Nevertheless, a 2008 examine checked out older samples and located “measurable water concentrations,” McCanta stated. By analyzing samples which have by no means been opened and by no means uncovered to the Earth’s environment, McCanta mentioned they hope to search out out if “the stuff that is somewhat bit deeper may need to have been protected.”The samples from the drive core might be made into small glass beads that may be examined.”We might love to seek out that there’s some profile or that we will higher tie down the hydrogen focus in these beads as a result of we can have a repository of what must be a significant quantity of pearls,” McCanta mentioned. “If there are any variations (with depth), we must always be capable of seeing them.”The samples will probably be examined at UT-Knoxville as early as this fall earlier than shifting to the following location for further evaluation, following a launch from the varsity.
At UT-Knoxville, the samples will likely be categorized into their primary main and minor ingredient chemistry, McCanta mentioned. Apollo 17 was the final mission the place people traveled to and walked on the moon. With this new analysis, scientists are ready to make use of fashionable know-how to be nonetheless taught extra in regards to the moon and area, McCanta mentioned.”We had one very brief period after we had folks strolling on the moon they usually introduced, and we’re nonetheless bringing data from it,” McCanta mentioned. “It is cool that we will nonetheless get all this information and study new issues. Hopefully, that may remind folks … that the info that comes out of them is many years-lengthy.”