|Exploring The Planets
Tools Of Exploration
Comprehensive studies of rocks and soils from other worlds require large equipment and teams of scientists. These requirements make it highly impractical - and years ago impossible - to perform these studies with robot explorers. Therefore, samples need to be brought back to Earth for analysis.
Apollo Lunar Sample Return Container
© Smithsonian Institution photo.
Apollo 12 Lunar Sample Container on display in Exploring The Planets (gallery 207) in the National Air and Space Museum.
|This box was used to carry
rocks from the Moon back to Earth on the Apollo 12 mission. The container
is designed to keep the samples sealed until opened in an inert atmosphere
in the Lunar Receiving Laboratory. Astronauts on the Apollo missions
returned a total of 379 kilograms (834 pounds) of rock and soil from
the Moon. A rock from the Moon is on display for visitors to touch in
the Milestones of Flight
(gallery 100) of the National Air and Space Museum.
For more information on the Apollo Lunar missions, see the Apollo Manned Space Program pages.
Image of Luna 16
|Three Soviet spacecraft, Luna 16, 20, and 24 returned samples from the Moon in the 1970's. The Luna spacecraft obtained their samples by drilling into the lunar surface and extracting a hollow tube filled with soil.||
Luna 20 Return Capsule
STARDUST: Sample of a Comet
The STARDUST mission will be the first to return a sample from a comet. Launched in 1999, STARDUST will encounter the comet Wild 2 in 2004. Samples of cometary particles will be collected using a unique material called aerogel. The samples will be stored in a reentry capsule and returned to Earth in 2006.
NASA Image P-46474
More Information: Stardust Mission Home Page
Tools of Exploration
Earth-based Observations || Airborne and Orbital Telescopes || Probes and Fly-by Spacecraft
Orbiters || Landers || Rovers || Sample Return
©2002 National Air and Space Museum