NASA has selected nine research teams for studying preserved Moon rocks, which were collected during the Apollo era. In its press stated, NASA has stated that one of the samples that the teams will be testing has never been in contact with Earth’s atmosphere, while the others have been frozen and stored in helium since collection.
Out of the nine teams, two are based in NASA’s own Ames Research Center situated in Silicon Valley, California. NASA states that the samples are a time capsule to the Moon’s past and contain information that will help them prepare for permanently inhabiting the Moon in the coming years.
The unopened sample, which the teams will be testing was collected by the last manned moon mission, Apollo 17. The samples span from the original Apollo mission, which happened almost 50 years ago. Scientists will now test the rock samples with modern technologies to uncover the history of the Moon in detail.
The team led by Richard Walroth from the Universities Space Research Association and David Blake of Ames will test the effects of space weather on the lunar surface. The team will be tasked to understand how solar radiation impacts iron and other metals in the Moon’s soil and what happens to the hydrogen particles from the sun when they make contact with the lunar surface.
This research will be helpful in deciding the materials that will be used for lunar habitats and other structures that will make the Moon habitable for humans.
The second team at NASA’s Silicon Valley facility will be led by Sehlke and Derek Sears who work at Ames through the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute. This team will heat up grain-sized samples of lunar dust, using the intensity of their glow to reveal the Moon’s thermal past.
This will help NASA discover how hot these rocks have been and what amount of radiation they’ve been exposed to. It will also help pinpoint spots to look for water, hydrogen and other materials. All the nine research groups will share their samples and findings, working collaboratively to create a roadmap for the human future on the Moon.