Apollo astronauts had many tasks to perform during their brief moonwalks. They erected scientific equipment, made precise observations of conditions on the lunar surface, and collected samples of the Moon's soil and rocks. Specialized tools for collecting lunar samples were carried to the Moon in the descent stage of the Lunar Module. The tools are made of stainless steel and aluminum.
Displayed here are tools used in astronaut training programs and exact replicas of tools carried on lunar missions.
Tools for Collection
Contingency Sampler With Folding Handle Used by astronauts to collect a soil sample immediately after they stepped from a lunar module to the surface. This insured that a sample would be returned to Earth even if astronauts had to curtail their surface explorations.
Scongs Combination scoop-and-tong for obtaining small samples of soil and rocks from the lunar surface.
Tongs The stiffness of the Apollo space suit made bending over difficult, so tongs were provided to aid in picking up rocks and soil.
Trenching Tool This tool was used when a large amount of lunar soil was to be removed from an area.
Small Scoop The small scoop allowed the astronaut to pick up small rocks or small quantities of lunar soil.
Bulk Sample Scoop This scoop was used to pick up large quantities of lunar material.
Surface Samplers These mouse trap-like devices were used to collect samples of soil from the lunar surface. A sampler was attached to an extension handle, opened and pressed down onto the surface. A cloth patch on the face of the sampler would collect the uppermost particles of lunar material from the surface. When lifted from the surface, the device would spring shut, protecting the sample.
Extension Handle This handle could attach and detach from the different collection tools in order to help astronauts collect samples.
Tools for Examination
Storing the Samples
Collection Bag Lunar samples placed in small plastic bags were stored in the collection bag until they were transferred to the sample return containers. The collection bag was used to carry the smaller numbered bags of lunar samples back to the lunar module.
Sample Bags As the astronauts collected lunar rocks and soil they described the samples to the Mission Control Center and placed them in numbered bags like these.Lunar Sample Return Container This sample return container, or "rock box" is one of two used by Apollo 11 astronauts to return 21.6 kilograms (47.7 pounds) of lunar material to the Earth following the first walk on the Moon, July 20, 1969. The containers are constructed of aluminum and stainless steel.After an Apollo lunar module (LM) descended to the lunar surface, the astronauts took the sample return containers form a storage compartment in the descent stage. The containers were then filled with lunar material, sealed, and returned to the ascent stage of the LM. The steel mesh pads in the boxes protected the lunar samples from damage during reentry and splashdown.