The gray content has now been extracted from the sample tube and is intended to provide information about the lunar soil. About half a century ago, astronauts collected samples of the lunar surface during the Apollo 17 mission. As NASA is now announcing, they have been removed from the protective device.
This was the focus of the Apollo Next Generation Sample Analysis Program (ANGSA) at NASA's Johnson Space Center. Sample-73001 (pictured above) was vacuum sealed on the moon in 1972 and was housed in a second protective vacuum tube.
According to the US space agency, the removal of the powdery gray contents with the appropriate special tools and gloves required a high degree of organization. The findings should provide an insight into the geological history of the moon.
According to NASA, they waited so long because they knew there would be improved scientific and technological methods to study lunar material in the future. You can read more about this here.
Beforehand, the scientists performed an extensive X-ray CT scan to obtain high-resolution images of the sample inside the tube. The extraction process could also be adjusted accordingly.
Now comes the analysis of the long-kept content. It is the lower half of a sample of lunar material that was obtained at the time using cylindrical devices known as "drive tubes". The upper half, sample 73002, was brought back from the moon in a standard, non-vacuum-sealed container and opened in 2019.
The Surface on The South Pole
The information that will now be collected will be of importance for further exploration of the moon. As part of the future Artemis missions, the astronauts are to land on the south pole of the moon.
There are said to be large amounts of volatiles, such as water ice and carbon dioxide, that would vaporize at normal temperatures. These can "give us clues as to where the water in this part of the solar system came from — whether it's from comets, asteroids, the solar wind, or otherwise," says Lori Glaze, director of the Division of Planetary Research at NASA Headquarters.