"But certainly the anniversary has increased the awareness and the fact that we are returning to the moon."
Along with the golden anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, who came close to speed – their Moonlight module Eagle landed on July 20, 1969 at the Sea of Peace – the moon is hot again.
After decades of flip-flopping between the moon and Mars as the next major astronaut destination, NASA aims to astronaut the Moon Space until 2024 in the direction of the White House. President Donald Trump prefers to speak about Mars. But the consensus is that the Moon is a crucial pitch, given its relative proximity to home – 386,000 kilometers – or two to three days away.
Zeigler's job is to preserve what 12 monthly pilgrims brought from 1969 to 1972 – lunar specimens totaling 382 kilograms – and ensure that scientists get the best possible sample for study.
Part of the soil and bits of rocks were vacuumed on the Moon and were never exposed to the Earth's atmosphere, nor were they frozen or stored in a gaseous helium after being sprayed and then left untouched. Laboratory staff are now trying to figure out how best to remove samples from their pipes and other containers without contamination or breakdown. They wear equipment and convert lunatic dirt.
Compared with the technology from the Apollo era, today's scientific instruments are much more sensitive, Zeigler pointed out.
"We can do more with a milligram than we could then do with one gram, so it was really a good plan to wait for them," he said.
The moon's laboratory has two side vaults: one for rocks still in the state of the month and a smaller bucket for samples previously borrowed for study. Approximately 70 percent of the original draw is in the intact swarm of patterns, which has two combinations and requires unlocking two people. About 15 percent is stored at White Sands in New Mexico. The rest is used for research or exposure.
By studying the rocks of the Apollo Moon, scientists have determined the age of Mars and Mercury.
Of six landings on the moon, Apollo 11 gave at least lunar specimens – 22 kg. It was the first unloading of astronauts and NASA wanted to reduce their time on the moon and risk. What remained of this mission – about three-quarters after scientific research, public displays and gifts of goodwill to all countries and states of the United States in 1969 – is largely kept at room temperature.
Armstrong was the primary rock collector and photographer. Aldrin collected two sample cores just below the surface during a 2½ hour period. All five subsequent landings of the Apollo moon had longer stays. The last three – Apollo 15, 16 and 17 – had oaks that significantly increased sample collection and coverage.
"Fifty years later we are still learning new things … incredible," Charis Krysher said from the lab, holding a clear acrylic marble fitted with the shards of the Moonlight Apollo 11 in his gloved hand.
By studying Apollo's moonlit rocks, Zeigler said, scientists determined the age of the Mars and Mercury surfaces and found that Jupiter and other large outer planets of the Solar System probably formed closer to the Sun and later migrated outward.
"So the return of the universe is really powerful in learning about the entire solar system," he said.
Andrea Mosie, who worked for 44 years with Apollo's rocks and was a high school student at the Johnson Space Center in July 1969, recalls the Polaroid photograph and handwritten notes that came up with each pattern. Sometimes she gets emotional when she talks to the children about the footage of the month and does everything in her power to reject any idea that rocks are not from the moon and lunar excursions have never happened.
"Samples are right here and are still intact," assures young skeptics.
Most of the samples that were issued during the following year were collected in 1972 during Apollo 17, last month.
Most of the samples that were distributed during the following year were collected in 1972 during Apolla 17, last month, and the only one that included geologist Harrison Schmitt. He occasionally visits the Moon's lab and plans to help open fresh specimens.
Nine US research teams selected by NASA will receive different amounts.
"Everything from the weight of the stapler, to such a small size, is hardly measurable," Zeigler said.
It is particularly difficult to extract gases that have been captured in vacuum-sealed sample tubes. The lab has not yet opened since the 1970s.
"If that part is withdrawn, the gas is gone. You have only one bullet," Zeigler said.
The collection of labs was divided by mission, and each lunar landing got its cabinet with built-in gloves and a pile of stainless steel bowls filled with pieces of the moon. Apollo 16 and 17, responsible for half lunar pulling, receive two cabinets per piece.
The total inventory of Apolla now exceeds 100,000 samples; some of the original 2.200 were broken into smaller pieces for study.
Processor Pattern Jeremy Kent hopes to "get a few more samples here in the lab for work."
There is room for more.
The Department of Health and Science Associated Press receives the support of the Department of Scientific Education at Howard Hughes Medical Institute.