Only five people in the world get to routinely handle these precious pebbles, sample processor Charis Krysher tells me. She’s one of them. But even Krysher and the lucky few can’t touch the samples directly. To pick up an Apollo rock, Krysher must either use stainless steel tweezers or slide her fingers into a third set of gloves made of Teflon.#Space #Moon #Geology #Rocks #MoonRocks #Research
All this effort is to protect the 382 kilograms of rocks, core samples, pebbles, sand and dust lifted from the moon during the six Apollo landings from 1969 through 1972. Those priceless samples are still offering fresh details about how the moon — and the entire solar system — formed and evolved. The rocks have revealed the rough ages of all the rocky planets’ surfaces and informed debate about whether an ancient reshuffling of the outer planets caused a bombardment of meteorites on Earth (SN Online: 9/12/16).
Since those first bits of moon arrived, NASA has sent about 50,000 individual samples to 500 research labs in more than 15 countries. Even with all that sharing, upward of 80 percent of the original haul is still untouched. Keeping with NASA’s hypercareful approach, nearly 15 percent of that lot is stored in a vault at the White Sands Test Facility near Las Cruces, N.M., a roughly 1,300-kilometer drive from Houston.
Designers also constructed this boxy, beige building in Houston, which opened in 1979, with certain disasters in mind. The structure is hurricane-resistant, and the pristine sample lab is one story above ground level to avoid flooding."
It seems like a long time ago on a moon far, far away, but now you can follow along with a satellite’s-eye-view of the mission: The folks at the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera website have created a very cool interactive feature where you can view the landing site using an LROC image, and when you scroll through the mission timeline the image changes to show you where the astronauts were, what they were doing, and what conversations they were having with each other and Mission Control back on Earth.#Space #Moon #Apollo11 #MoonLandings
It’s cool to see how things unfolded in that brief time they were on the Moon. I had fun going over Armstrong’s first small step, and then watching the two of them zip around the site performing their tasks. I was especially taken with their short walk over to Little West Crater to their immediate east by about 60 meters.
The Lunar Library, as the archive is known, constitutes a “civilization backup” to help ensure that our distant descendants never lose humanity's collective wisdom, according to Nova Spivack, co-founder of Arch Mission Foundation, the Los Angeles-based nonprofit behind the project. The foundation is building a space-based archive designed to survive for 6 billion years or more — a million times longer than the oldest written records in existence today.#Space #Library #Moon