NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced on Monday that lunar samples collected during the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 missions will be finally studied after being stored for around 50 years. During the agency's Moon to Mars initiative and the 2020 budget discussion, he made the announcement and said that nine teams have been selected to study the moon samples and they are awarded a total of 8 million US Dollars to execute their research.
As per media reports, the space research center informed that three samples collected during the three successful Apollo missions have been kept away from Earth's atmosphere till date. They were delivered to Earth in a vacuum-sealed drive tube, and have been kept that way.
Now, six out of the nine teams will study the Apollo 17 sample, which is reportedly, about 1.8 pounds of rock layers as they were found on the moon. Meanwhile, the other teams will be studying samples brought back to Earth from the final moon missions and kept frozen or stored in helium.
Talking about the aim of the initiative, Administrator Jim Bridenstine highlighted that the lunar Gateway isn’t just about getting to the Moon. 'It gives us the opportunity to study deep space from a human-tended space station.'
"We want humans on the Moon. We want robots and rovers and landers," he said during Moon to Mars event.
Meanwhile, NASA has announced that they have money in this budget for a return to the Moon with Humans and opened up about many other interesting initiatives.
"This budget funds our ability to reach out to another world and find potentially life on another world." Jim Bridenstine said at the event.
"For the first time in over 10 years, we have money in this budget for a return to the Moon with Humans. I'm talking about human-rated landers to go to the Moon" he added.
Administrator Jim Bridenstine further revealed that NASA is planning to build a huge spacecraft, bigger than the statue of liberty, that can carry both astronauts and payloads to the outer space.
"We’re talking about a rocket that’s bigger than any rocket that’s ever been built in human history ..." he added.