A lunar sample from the Apollo 17 mission has finally been opened at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, nearly 50 years after it was obtained from the lunar surface.
The sample was discovered by NASA astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison “Jack” Schmitt in the Taurus-Littrow Valley in December 1972, when they hammered 14-inch (36-centimeter) cylindrical drive tubes into a landslide deposit.
The lunar sample was coded 73001, and it comprised of lunar soil and rock pieces that can be used to reconstruct the moon’s geology across time.
Another sample from Apollo 17 was unsealed for the first time three years ago on the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing.
“We finally get to explore what riches are housed within this extraordinarily valuable sample that has been saved for 50 years under vacuum,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, in a statement.
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