Where No Man Has Gone Before: A History of Apollo Lunar Exploration Missions


Apollo 17 Samples

The Lunar Sample Analysis Planning Team met at MSC on January 29 to plan for allocation of Apollo 17 samples. In keeping with the custom established on the previous two missions, five key samples were released very early for age-dating, including the orange soil that had so excited Jack Schmitt. During February samples were sent to 116 of 185 principal investigators, even before the preliminary examination was completed, so that some results could be reported to the fourth Lunar Science Conference scheduled for March.5

Schmitt's selection and documentation of samples taken from the large boulders examined at Taurus-Littrow presented a new problem for the team. Considering that issuing samples to investigators working in isolation would waste a unique opportunity to study the relationships between different rock types, the team recommended that each boulder (or set of possibly related boulders) be examined by a small interdisciplinary group working in dose collaboration. After these groups had examined the samples and extracted as much information as possible, the specimens would be cut up and distributed for study.6

5. Minutes, Apollo Lunar Sample Analysis Planning Team meeting, Jan. 29-Feb. 2, 1973.

6. Ibid.