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A HUGE thank you to Andrea Mosie - Lab Manager
(You're one of my favorite people Andrea...you made a lasting impression!)
Also thank you to:
Ryan Zeigler (Apollo Sample Curator), and
Charis Hall Krysher
A personal thank you to Gordon for setting this up.
Checkout this picture of Curation back in the day:
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CATALOG OF APOLLO LUNAR SURFACE GEOLOGICAL SAMPLING TOOLS AND CONTAINERS
Armstrong discusses sample boxes
Vacuum processing facility
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- What is this? - Apollo 11, the first mission. - This is Apollo 11? - The first mission, these are the samples, all the samples that were brought back from the Apollo 11 mission. - Is it still awesome for you? - It's awesome, yes. - It's very awesome. - Only place in the world that you can actually work with moon rocks every day, with the amount of samples that we do. - That's amazing. (beeps) Hey it's me Destin, welcome back to Smarter Every Day, I've always wanted to do this intro. So, four years ago I had the tremendous opportunity of going to Johnson Space Center to the Lunar Sample Laboratory Facility. Basically it's as close as you can be to going to the moon on Earth. When the astronauts got off of the lander, one of their main jobs was to collect rocks, right? Now I've always though they would just gather these rocks and get 'em back on the lander real quick 'cause they had a limited amount of time, oh no. They had to approach a specific rock, a specific way and capture it in such a way that we could study it decades later. (sound suspiciously traveling through vacuum) Today on Smarter Every Day we're gonna go to the facility on the Earth where they keep the moon rocks. Where the process 'em, where they cut 'em up and give some pieces to museums and universities, it is an awesome facility. So we're gonna go meet one of my favorite people on the planet: Andrea, she's the director of the facility, (How is he not suffocating right now?) we're gonna go see what they do with moon rocks today. Hey it's me Destin, welcome back to Smarter Every Day, we are at Johnson Space Center and we are about to go see real moon rocks. But first, we have to get the camera cleaned off. So why are you cleaning it? - To get any kind of outside particles, dirt, off. You're going into a clean room. - Got it, so we're gonna bunny suit up. - Yes sir. - And so you're putting booties on that have not been exposed to dirt or anything, so now you're in the clean area. And as we go back. - It gets progressively more clean? - Exactly. - I see, okay. - And the rooms are pressurized so that they clean air flows outwards, so that the dirty does not. Like this door is open. - Air is flowing that way. This takes a while. (chuckling) All right, I hope I don't have to pee during this. - I hope you do. (laughing) So you're one of the only people in the world that get to operate with moon rocks on a daily basis? - One of few, we have a special group here and that's our task, daily we work with the lunar samples. - No no no, you're giving me the NASA voice. (laughing) I want the Andrea voice, I don't want the NASA voice. (coughing) (laughing) So every day, you get to mess with moon rocks. - Yes, every day we work-- - Is it pretty cool? - It's a cool thing, work with the moon rocks every day, a special group of people and that's what we do. - That's awesome. (laughing) That was still the NASA voice. (laughing) So how long have you been doing this? - I've been doing this for 39 years, and I was just one when I started working here. (laughing) - So you're 40. - That's my story and I'm sticking to it. - That's great, that's awesome. This is who I wanna work with here, this is good. - We're gonna go into our air shower, and we stay in there for one minute and it's laminal flow, so that-- - You have no idea how much-- - The less clean area and the clean-- - You have no idea how much I like laminar flow. You don't even know, I can't even explain it to you. - Then you really love it? - I do. So here we go. - Okay, here we go. And only four can go in here at a time, so one, two, three. - No way, so the air. - That's where they are now. - Is our minute up? - Yes. - Our microwave's done? - So watch your step down. - I'm watching it, boom. Bam, wow, all right. - What's your schedule, how long are you here? I'm on the moon as far as I'm concerned. (laughing) So I don't care how long this takes! So what are we doing now? - We're in our Pristine Sample Lab. And so there were six missions that went to the moon from 1969 to 1972, bringing back 842 pounds of moon rocks, which is 382 kilograms. Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17 and those samples are curated here in this laboratory. In these nitrogen filled cabinets, a very pure type nitrogen gas. This is Apollo 17. So I'm going to pull off the gloves. This is a neoprene glove that was use and we can not touch the sample with these gloves if they're unbagged, but the samples that I'm gonna show you are actually bagged. And later on I'm gonna let you go into a cabinet as well, but there won't be any samples in that cabinet. Gotcha. This is Apollo 17's sample, the sample number 76315,89. So you know that this sample has been broken at least into 89 pieces. - This is how they're indexed. - This is how they're, yes, and this is how they're packaged for storage. - You only touch the moon rocks with tools that you're holding with gloves, right? - If the moon rocks are open, then we only touch them with Teflon, aluminum or stainless steel so there would be tweezers or Teflon gloves, and this is a pair-- - Gloves over your gloves? - Gloves over the gloves. - Wow. - Exactly. - That's amazing. You're controlling the materials that actually touch the moon rocks. You said Teflon-- - Aluminum, stainless steel. - So even if they see that material on the sample when they're analyzing it, they just subtract it out 'cause they know that that's what you're manipulating it with, that makes sense. Finger, finger, finger, finger finger. - Grab, make a fist. - Grab, punch? - Yes. Keep going, wiggle your hand around... perfect! - Got it, got it. Okay? - One more. - All right. Leaning how to grab and touch lunar rocks, all right. We good, we're in, we're in. - Pull that tray really over there, you see the one with the top on? - Oh my goodness. - Pull it toward you. - There's no way I can get to that. - Yes you can, reach. - Okay, got it. - There's no such thing as I can't. - Excellent. - Okay, take the lid off and sit it on the floor. - Me and you could hang out. - Okay, there's a black pedal on the floor. Push down the black pedal and look, it's gonna go to zero, take your foot up. - Oh you just, got it. - You're taring it out, now put one of those weights gently on the balance. - This is a super-balance isn't it? Gently on the balance. - You break it you bought it. I'm not gonna break it. - Okay that's actually 100 gram weight. - Wow, down to the microgram. - And 100 gram -milligams actually weighs 99.99974, but we have a plus or minus tolerance so it's within the range. - I see. - If it was not within the range then we would have to stop right now, get a technician to tweak the balance, before we go any further. - Good grief, so uncertainty and accuracy-- - Is important. - Is super important. This lab serves as a kind of staging area. NASA uses it to provide lunar material to academia for study. But the lab itself is supplied by the vault. When you walk into this room and you know that it contains some of the most precious material on Earth, it's an absolutely surreal experience. This is it? - This is the pristine sample vault, and all the samples are actually still stored in nitrogen cabinets, also by mission. You can look up there you can see the mission, just like, also by mission just like that. - What is this? - Apollo 11, the first mission. - This is Apollo 11? - The first mission, these are the samples, all the samples that were brought back from the Apollo 11 mission. - Is it still awesome for you? - It's awesome, yes. - So all the moon rocks in the entire world, the major moon rocks, all of 'em are in this room. - Yes, starting with Apollo 11 over in the corner. That's Apollo 12, these are 14's, 15's, 16's and 17's. - That's crazy. So why don't we have it in multiple locations? Like why aren't half of 'em in a mountain in Colorado? - There is another remote facility that we have just in case Johnson Space Center was destroyed, we have 15% of the samples stored in a remote location for storage. - Somewhere else is all you're gonna tell me. - Somewhere else. - Got it. That's awesome! That's why we call it "remote". (laughing) - Thank you. - Each one of them have a security seal on there, which mean that we have inventoried every sample in those cabins and we know our database has every sample, every container number, every sample weight, and sample description in there for everything that's in it. - Wow, that's crazy. So do you have a photographic index of all of these? - Yes, we do. - You do. - Yes. - Wow. And so that's how you go through and select what you want. - You know the-- - Exactly. - Composition? - Yes. We have a description of everything, all the rocks were described. This is a open tray, because there's no seal on it. - I see. (tray bangs) Is it heavy? - Yes it is. - Okay. (laughs) - And there are the Apollo 15 samples. - That's an actual rock right there? - Yes it is. And the number is 15499,179. So it lets you know it's been broken at least 179 times. - So it was a much bigger rock when you first got it. - Yes, yes - That's amazing. That is pretty interesting, so how, is it a big deal when you get to chip a big rock? - Yes it is, and actually you're gonna see the process when we go back into the lab. - Really? - You'll see a large sample that's being worked on. - Oh that's awesome. When they brought 'em off the moon, did they have 'em in nitrogen or anything on the way back? - They were in bags, they were not in nitrogen they were sealed in bags, oh I see-- and different, yes. (mumbling) Gotcha. Judy...