Why did NASA take 50 years to open the sample brought from the moon

NASA: This ‘sample 73001’ was taken in December 1972 from the Taurus-Littrow valley of the moon. Only two samples were vacuum sealed on the Moon. 73001 is one of them. NASA waited 50 years to open it for a specific purpose.

Mond Harrison H. Schmitt Apollo 17

n this December 13, 1972 photo, scientist-astronaut Harrison Smit is seen standing near a large boulder in the Moon’s Taurus-Littrow valley during Apollo-17’s third extravehicular activity (EVA).

The purpose of America’s ‘Apollo Program’ was to land humans on the moon and bring them back to Earth safely. Under this program, six missions – Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17 – accomplished their goals. The brightest chapter of these missions was July 20, 1969.

On the same day, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, who went on the Apollo 11 mission, became the first humans to step on the moon. Both of them also brought samples of the moon with them to the earth. This was the first time that things from another planet were brought to Earth.

Why did you wait for five decades for research?

In these six missions of Apollo, a lot of scientific data and about 400 kg of moon samples came to Earth. These include samples of a total of 2,196 stones brought from the moon. But even after half a century, the research work of all the samples has not been completed.

NASA has now started work on the last few samples. This delay was done deliberately. NASA had kept them sealed, so that further research could be done on them.

Lori Glaze is director of the Department of Planetary Science at NASA Headquarters. Issuing a statement about this, he said, “NASA knew that there would be advances in science and technology in the future. This will help scientists to research those samples in new and better ways. They are aware of future challenges and concerns.” In view of this, we will be able to look at new aspects.

What is sample 3001?

The name of the sample that has just been opened for research is – 73001. This sample 73001 is a 35 cm long and four cm wide tube. This tube was inserted into the ground to collect stones from the Moon’s Taurus-Littrow valley. Only two samples were vacuum sealed on the moon.

NASA’s scientists look forward to learning more about 'volatiles' gasses inside samples from the Moon.


73001 is one of them. Astronauts Eugene Sarnen and Harrison Smit, who went to the moon on the Apollo 17 mission, brought it to Earth in December 1972. This was NASA’s last manned mission to the moon so far.

This tube 73001 can contain things like gas or water, carbon dioxide. It is estimated that only a small amount of these will be present inside the tube.

NASA wants to obtain them safely, so that they can be analyzed with the help of spectrometry techniques that have been highly advanced in recent years. Earlier in February 2022, an additional tube layer installed as a protective cover on the outside of this tube was removed. There was no moon gas in it.

From this, the scientists inferred that the things that are sealed in the inner tube are safe. Haven’t leaked. Then on 23 February, the scientists started the process of getting the gas locked inside it by drilling a hole in the main part of the tube. This lengthy process can take weeks to complete. After this the stone deposited inside will be removed very carefully. it will be broken. Then a team of different scientists will analyze it.

Landslide puzzle on the moon will be solved!

The place of the moon from where this sample 73001 has been picked up is also interesting. There was once a landslide. Explaining its importance, Julian Gross, Apollo’s deputy curator, says, “It doesn’t rain on the moon. That’s why we don’t understand why there are landslides.”

Gross said that the researchers hope that by analyzing the sample, they may find the answer. After 73001, only three samples brought from the moon will remain,

which are still sealed. When asked when they will be opened, senior curator Ryan Sigler said, “I don’t think we’ll wait another 50 years. When we get samples of Artemis, it’s better to have these leftovers of samples brought to Artemis.” Compare with sealed samples.

Help can be found in sending humans to Mars

Artemis is NASA’s next mission to the moon. The agency is preparing to send humans again to the moon in 2025. In the Artemis mission, NASA will send women and black astronauts to the moon for the first time. This time an attempt will also be made to stay on the moon for a relatively long time. 

During this mission, a large amount of gas samples will be collected from the moon. The information related to the moon and its surrounding environment in these missions will be used to fulfill the ambitious plan to send humans to Mars.