NASA’s Apollo Moon Rocks Still Thrill Scientists 50 Years Later

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The consequences of that spontaneous decision continue today. All that soil, along with the rocks it joined, became humanity’s first of six installments of lunar samples carried home by the Apollo program. Unlike your vacation souvenirs, the Apollo lunar samples are still being studied, even five decades after astronauts ferried them home. They’re the only planetary samples that have been gathered by humans, which makes them a uniquely valuable collection of material.

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Humanity’s coolest achievements in spaceflight since Apollo 8, from walking on the moon to touching interstellar space

“There was the Vietnam War going on, it was not a popular war, especially with the younger people,” Jim Lovell, a retired NASA astronaut, previously told Business Insider. “There were riots, there were two assassinations of prominent people during that period, and so things were looking kind of bad in this country.”

But Lovell and his fellow crew members’ unprecedented mission to the moon ‘ Apollo 8‘ brought much of America and the world together.

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Here’s all the far out stuff happening in space in 2019

There are plenty of faithful robots in our solar system, on or near nearby planets, that are set to blow our minds with new stuff in 2019. We also have to get ready to broaden our horizons with new telescopes that are bigger, badder and ready to see what no one has seen before. So here’s a lookahead to all things space coming up over the next 12 months.

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On January 1, the intrepid New Horizons probe, which has been travelling for 13 years visiting both Jupiter and Pluto, will fly past 2014 MU69, better known as Ultima Thule ‘ one of the oldest objects in the solar system and the most distant world we are yet to get to. Only about 30km in diameter, Ultima Thule is part of the Kuiper belt ‘ a ring of debris around the sun, some 4.5 billion miles from Earth, on the outskirts of our solar neighbourhood. The ring is a leftover from the formation of the planets of our solar system. These objects are believed to have stayed essentially unchanged since they condensed from the ice and dust of the outer solar nebula when our Sun was a mere infant. New Horizons has just 24 hours to observe and analyse Ultima Thule with all its instruments. Astronomers hope to understand what it’s made of and whether it even might have an atmosphere.

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