More than 40 years after it was brought back to Earth and accidentally put into storage, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory says it has re-discovered Moon dust samples collected by the Apollo 11 crew. But now NASA wants the samples returned, thank you very much.
When the Apollo 11 crew returned from its historic flight in 1969, the Moon rocks and soil collected made their way to no less than 150 labs worldwide. One of these was the Space Sciences Laboratory in Latimer Hall on the UC Berkeley campus. But after tests on the dust were completed, the samples were supposed to have been sent back to NASA.
Instead, they were put in storage where they collected Earth dust for the past 40 years. But last month, Berkeley Lab archivist Karen Nelson found the Moon dust — about 20 vials with handwritten labels and dated “24 July 1970”— while working in the lab's warehouse. “They were vacuum sealed in a glass jar,” said Nelson, “We don’t know how or when they ended up in storage.”
NASA has since requested that the moon dust samples be returned to the space agency. In the meantime, however, Nelson was told that she could take the vials out of the vacuumed sealed jar for a closer look at the Moon dust.
Images: Roy Kaltschmidt.