Apollo to the Moon

Sampling the Moon

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 Soil Sampler

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

Scongs
Combination scoop-and-tong for obtaining small samples of soil and rocks from the lunar surface.
Tongs

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

Trenching Tool
This tool was used when a large amount of lunar soil was to be removed from an area.
Small Scoop

Small Scoop
The small scoop allowed the astronaut to pick up small rocks or small quantities of lunar soil.


Bulk Sample Scoop

Bulk Sample Scoop
This scoop was used to pick up large quantities of lunar material.
Surface Sampler

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.
Collection Tool Extension Handle

Extension Handle
This handle could attach and detach from the different collection tools in order to help astronauts collect samples.


Tools for Examination


Simple Penetrometer
Simple Penetrometer
This device was used to give a rough measurement of the firmness or resistance to penetration of lunar soil.
Lunar Self Recording Penetrometer
Lunar Self Recording Penetrometer
This device was used to give a more precise measurement of the firmness or resistance to penetration of lunar soil than earlier penetrometers.
Dust Brush
Dust Brush
Rock specimens were cleaned of dust or soil particles with this type of brush. 
Brush-Scribe-Lens
Brush-Scribe-Lens
This multi-purpose tool was used to clean specimens, mark them, and examine them under magnification. 
Spring Scale
Spring Scale
Spring scales were calibrated for the one-sixth Earth gravity of the Moon and were used to weigh lunar rock samples.


Storing the Samples


Sample Collection Bag
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.
Moon Sample Bags
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.
Apollo Lunar Sample Return Container
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.