Moon Dust Discovered In California Lab
May 27, 2013

Missing Apollo 11 Moon Dust Found In Storage At California Lab

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Roughly four decades after mysteriously disappearing, vials of Moon dust collected by Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin have been discovered at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.

Twenty vials containing handwritten labels dated “24 July 1970” were discovered earlier this month by a local archivist named Karen Nelson, according to Slashgear´s Cory Gunther. As it turns out, the Moon dust that had been missing for nearly 40 years had been “sitting safely in storage all this time out in California,” he added.

The vials, which had been placed in vacuum-sealed glass jars, contained Moon dust returned to Earth by the first men to walk on the lunar surface, Gunther said. Officials from the lab said that they did not know how or when the vials were placed in storage, and that they were “surprised” that the Moon dust was in their facility.

Also discovered by Nelson, according to Edward Moyer of CNET, was an academic paper entitled “Study of carbon compounds in Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 returned lunar samples” and was published in the Proceedings of the Second Lunar Science Conference in 1971. A copy of that paper has been published online at the laboratory´s official website.

Nelson told reporters that she has contacted NASA to let them know about the samples. While the US space agency has requested that they be returned, Moyer said that they have given her permission to open the sealed jars and take a closer look at the Moon dust containers.

The discovery, Gunther said, “has many asking questions about“¦ how and why something of this nature was lost to begin with.” He added that NASA officials might have assumed that “the unaccounted for vials were destroyed in testing.” Moyer countered that researchers could have simply “lost interest in the dust once it became apparent there were no signs of past carbon-based moon life in it.”

“Then again, you never know,” he quipped. “Maybe they should analyze the stuff a second time.”