NASA reveals opening of one of final Apollo 17 lunar soil capsules

Sample being studied ahead of first return to lunar surface in five decades.
Moon rocks at the Johnson Space Center, 2019

NASA this week revealed that it had opened and was studying one of the final soil capsules from the Apollo 17 lunar mission ahead of humanity’s planned return to the moon in 2025.

The space agency said in a news release that “one of the last unopened Apollo-era lunar samples collected during Apollo 17 has been opened under the careful direction of lunar sample processors.” 

The sample “will serve as a narrow window into the permanent, geological record” of the moon, NASA said. 

The samples had been transported back by the crew of the Apollo 17 mission and kept in both vacuum-sealed tubes and “nitrogen-purged processing cabinets in [Johnson Space Center’s] lunar laboratory.”