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Touching the Moon

11 Mar 2010, 13:35 UTC
Touching the Moon
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February 24, 2010. This is the Lunar Sample Return Facility at Johnson Space Center. Apollo 14 landed in the Fra Mauro formation, the intended site of Apollo 13. Sample 14003,96 was a contingency sample collected by the crew at the beginning of their first EVA in February 5, 1971. This is a pristine sample, unopened by anyone in 39 years! Today is the great honour of touching the Moon, seeing what no one has seen before.Apollo samples are beyond priceless. Only by many months of applying and experimenting can one get a piece. 14003,96 is the largest pristine sample released to researchers in memory. The sample is handled here in the clean room, within a glovebox pressurised with nitrogen.The sample is kept within this flying saucer-shaped container, sealed with many bolts. No one knows exactly what we will find within. Working within a glovebox is tricky, much like being on EVA. Removing the lid, we find 3 layers of heat-sealed plastic and another metal container. Here is the first view of sample 14003,96 since Alan Shepard. It will be used for some very important experiments. Unlike Earth's surface, which has been renewed many times by plate tectonics, the lunar regolith ...

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