– [Destin] What is this? – Apollo 11, the first mission. – [Destin] This is Apollo 11? – [Andrea] The first mission,
these are the samples, all the samples that were brought back from the Apollo 11 mission. – [Destin] Is it still awesome for you? – It’s awesome, yes. – [Destin] It’s very awesome. – Only place in the world that you can actually work with moon rocks every day, with the amount
of samples that we do. – That’s amazing. (beeps) Hey it’s me Destin, welcome
back to Smarter Every Day, I’ve always wanted to do this intro. So, four years ago I had
the tremendous opportunity of going to Johnson Space Center to the Lunar Sample Laboratory Facility. Basically it’s as close as you can be to going to the moon on Earth. [Astronaut transmissions] When the astronauts got off of the lander, one of their main jobs was
to collect rocks, right? Now I’ve always though they would just gather these rocks and
get ’em back on the lander real quick ’cause they had a
limited amount of time, oh no. They had to approach a
specific rock, a specific way and capture it in such a way that we could study it decades later. Today on Smarter Every Day we’re gonna go to the facility on the Earth where they keep the moon rocks. Where the process ’em,
where they cut ’em up and give some pieces to
museums and universities, it is an awesome facility. So we’re gonna go meet one of my favorite people
on the planet: Andrea, she’s the director of the facility, we’re gonna go see what they
do with moon rocks today. Hey it’s me Destin, welcome
back to Smarter Every Day, we are at Johnson Space Center and we are about to go
see real moon rocks. But first, we have to get
the camera cleaned off. So why are you cleaning it? – [Woman] To get any kind of
outside particles, dirt, off. You’re going into a clean room. – Got it, so we’re gonna bunny suit up. – [Woman] Yes sir. – And so you’re putting booties on that have not been exposed
to dirt or anything, so now you’re in the clean area. And as we go back. – [Destin] It gets
progressively more clean? – Exactly.
– I see, okay. – And the rooms are pressurized
so that they clean air flows outwards, so that
the dirty does not. Like this door is open. – Air is flowing that way. This takes a while.
(chuckling) All right, I hope I don’t
have to pee during this. – I hope you do. (laughing) So you’re one of the
only people in the world that get to operate with
moon rocks on a daily basis? – One of few, we have a special group here and that’s our task, daily we
work with the lunar samples. – [Destin] No no no, you’re
giving me the NASA voice. (laughing) I want the Andrea voice, I
don’t want the NASA voice. (coughing) (laughing) So every day, you get
to mess with moon rocks. – Yes, every day we work– – [Destin] Is it pretty cool? – It’s a cool thing, work
with the moon rocks every day, a special group of people
and that’s what we do. – That’s awesome.
(laughing) That was still the NASA voice. (laughing) So how long have you been doing this? – I’ve been doing this for 39 years, and I was just one when
I started working here. (laughing) – [Destin] So you’re 40. – That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. – That’s great, that’s awesome. This is who I wanna work
with here, this is good. – We’re gonna go into our air shower, and we stay in there for one minute and it’s laminal flow, so that– – [Destin] You have no idea how much– – The less clean area and the clean– – [Destin] You have no idea
how much I like laminar flow. You don’t even know, I can’t
even explain it to you. – Then you really love it?
– I do. So here we go. – Okay, here we go. And only four can go in here at a time, so one, two, three. – [Destin] No way, so the air. – That’s where they are now. – Is our minute up? – Yes.
– Our microwave’s done? – [Andrea] So watch your step down. – [Destin] I’m watching it, boom. Bam, wow, all right. – What’s your schedule,
how long are you here? [Destin] I’m on the moon as far as I’m concerned. (laughing) [Destin] So I don’t care how long this takes! So what are we doing now? – We’re in our Pristine Sample Lab. And so there were six
missions that went to the moon from 1969 to 1972, bringing
back 842 pounds of moon rocks, which is 382 kilograms. Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17 and those samples are curated
here in this laboratory. In these nitrogen filled cabinets, a very pure type nitrogen gas. This is Apollo 17. So I’m going to pull off the gloves. This is a neoprene glove that was use and we can not touch the
sample with these gloves if they’re unbagged, but the samples that I’m gonna
show you are actually bagged. And later on I’m gonna let
you go into a cabinet as well, but there won’t be any
samples in that cabinet. [Destin] Gotcha. This is Apollo 17’s sample, the sample number 76315,89. So you know that this
sample has been broken at least into 89 pieces. – [Destin] This is how they’re indexed. – This is how they’re, yes, and this is how they’re
packaged for storage. – [Destin] You only touch
the moon rocks with tools that you’re holding with gloves, right? – If the moon rocks are open, then we only touch them
with Teflon, aluminum or stainless steel so
there would be tweezers or Teflon gloves, and this is a pair– – [Destin] Gloves over your gloves? – Gloves over the gloves. – Wow.
– Exactly. – [Destin] That’s amazing. You’re controlling the materials that actually touch the moon rocks. You said Teflon– – Aluminum, stainless steel. – So even if they see that
material on the sample when they’re analyzing it,
they just subtract it out ’cause they know that that’s what you’re manipulating it with, that makes sense. Finger, finger, finger, finger finger. – Grab, make a fist. – Grab, punch?
– Yes. Keep going, wiggle your
hand around… perfect! – Got it, got it. Okay? – One more.
– All right. Leaning how to grab and
touch lunar rocks, all right. We good, we’re in, we’re in. – Pull that tray really over there, you see the one with the top on? – Oh my goodness.
– Pull it toward you. – There’s no way I can get to that. – [Andrea] Yes you can, reach. – Okay, got it. – There’s no such thing as I can’t. – Excellent. – [Andrea] Okay, take the lid
off and sit it on the floor. – Me and you could hang out. – Okay, there’s a black
pedal on the floor. Push down the black pedal and look, it’s gonna go to zero, take your foot up. – Oh you just, got it. – You’re taring it out, now put one of those weights
gently on the balance. – This is a super-balance isn’t it? Gently on the balance. – You break it you bought it. I’m not gonna break it. – Okay that’s actually 100 gram weight. – Wow, down to the microgram. – [Andrea] And 100 gram
actually weighs 99.99974, but we have a plus or minus tolerance so it’s within the range. – I see. – If it was not within the range then we would have to stop right now, get a technician to tweak the balance, before we go any further. – [Destin] Good grief, so
uncertainty and accuracy– – Is important.
– Is super important. This lab serves as a kind of staging area. NASA uses it to provide lunar material to academia for study. But the lab itself is
supplied by the vault. When you walk into this room and you know that it contains some of the most precious
material on Earth, it’s an absolutely surreal experience. This is it? – This is the pristine sample vault, and all the samples are
actually still stored in nitrogen cabinets, also by mission. You can look up there
you can see the mission, just like, also by mission just like that. – [Destin] What is this? – Apollo 11, the first mission. – [Destin] This is Apollo 11? – [Andrea] The first mission, these are the samples, all the samples that were brought back
from the Apollo 11 mission. – [Destin] Is it still awesome for you? – It’s awesome, yes. – [Destin] So all the moon
rocks in the entire world, the major moon rocks, all of ’em are in this room. – Yes, starting with Apollo
11 over in the corner. That’s Apollo 12, these are
14’s, 15’s, 16’s and 17’s. – [Destin] That’s crazy. So why don’t we have it
in multiple locations? Like why aren’t half of ’em in
a mountain in Colorado? – There is another remote
facility that we have just in case Johnson
Space Center was destroyed, we have 15% of the samples stored in a remote location for storage. – [Destin] Somewhere else
is all you’re gonna tell me. – Somewhere else.
– Got it. That’s awesome! That’s why we call it “remote”.
(laughing) – [Destin] Thank you. – Each one of them have
a security seal on there, which mean that we have
inventoried every sample in those cabins and we
know our database has every sample, every container number, every sample weight,
and sample description in there for everything that’s in it. – [Destin] Wow, that’s crazy. So do you have a photographic
index of all of these? – Yes, we do.
– You do. – Yes.
– Wow. And so that’s how you go through
and select what you want. – You know the–
– Exactly. – Composition?
– Yes. We have a description of everything, all the rocks were described. This is a open tray, because
there’s no seal on it. – [Destin] I see. (tray bangs)
Is it heavy? – Yes it is.
– Okay. (laughs) – [Andrea] And there are
the Apollo 15 samples. – [Destin] That’s an
actual rock right there? – [Andrea] Yes it is. And the number is 15499,179. So it lets you know it’s been
broken at least 179 times. – [Destin] So it was a much bigger rock when you first got it.
– Yes, yes – [Destin] That’s amazing. That is pretty interesting, so how, is it a big deal when you
get to chip a big rock? – Yes it is, and actually
you’re gonna see the process when we go back into the lab. – Really?
– You’ll see a large sample that’s being worked on. – [Destin] Oh that’s awesome. When they brought ’em off the moon, did they have ’em in nitrogen
or anything on the way back? – They were in bags, they were not in nitrogen
they were sealed in bags, [Destin] oh I see– [Andrea] and different, yes. (mumbling) [Destin] Gotcha. Judy’s the expert on this – They took two of rock
boxes on every mission. – [Destin] Really? carved out of a single peice of Aluminum
alloy 775 and triple gaskets. Those were to be closed
on the moon in vacuum and remain in vacuum and for Apollo 11 and 12. They were opened in the vacuum. – No way! In my head it’s like they
got inside the ascent module and just threw rocks on the floor. I know that’s not how it happened but in my head, y’know
it’s like a pickup truck. – Some were sealed in the vacuum boxes on the surface of the moon, they weren’t opened ’til
they were opened here. -(beep) I don’t know why I’ve
never thought about this, but you can’t just pick
up a rock on the moon, throw it in the lander and
bring it back to Earth. Because by the time you get in the lander, the oxygenated environment in the lander is going to change the chemical
composition of the rock as it oxidizes right? So how do you get rock back to Earth without Earth and the
atmosphere contaminating it? The answer is a super fancy box. They can put it in
there in bags of course, and then they can seal it up and get it all the way
back to Earth in a vacuum so it can still be studied today with the same chemical composition as it had on the moon. – [Neil Armstrong] We know that there are a lot of scientists from
a number of countries standing by see the lunar samples, and we thought you’d be interested in seeing that they really are here. These two boxes are the
sample return they are vacuum packed containers that were closed in the
vacuum on the lunar surface, sealed, and then brought inside the LM (Lunar Module) and put inside these fiberglass bags, zippered and resealed around the outside and placed in these receptacles in the side of the command module. – [Destin] I found a really
cool report from NASA that explained how the
processed the moon rocks from Apollo 11 and 12 in a vacuum. Turns out this was an incredibly difficult ordeal to figure out. According to this report
they had to basically make a reverse space suit, arms and everything. They developed special storage containers, tweezers, all kinds of things. But in the end reports say
that it made more sense to process the lunar material
under atmospheric pressure using dry nitrogen. – We had vacuum glove box It was not easy to maintain, y’know if you got any kind of leak you got stuff from outside inside and if you’ll notice these
are all positive pressure cabinets so it keeps the rocks clean. – [Destin] We went back to the lab and I got to witness Charice in the process of preparing a large moon
rock for a scientist. They team explained to
me how they gather tools they brought back more stuff
and so those boxes were full
They team explained to
me how they gather tools into the glove box without
contaminating the samples.
they brought back more stuff
and so those boxes were full and so the later missions
had extra bags and stuff
into the glove box without
contaminating the samples. Everything that enters the
presence of the moon rocks
and so the later missions
had extra bags and stuff has to be cleaned via a special procedure.
and so the later missions
had extra bags and stuff that were not in these sealed boxes,
has to be cleaned via a special procedure. Think about it, tools, nameplates, bags.
that were not in these sealed boxes, they came back in the crew cabin.
Think about it, tools, nameplates, bags. Think about it, tools, nameplates, bags. If any of these items are dirty they could become a
source of contamination. If it goes into that
cabinet with the rocks, it better be clean. Every tool, every nameplate,
everything that’s used to process the rocks
is cleaned to an insane specification and then it’s triple bagged. These bags are then removed in succession as the tools get closer and
closer to the moon rocks to avoid contamination at every step. For example here you can see me putting on a second set of gloves just
to touch the second bag, before placing this chipping
bowl into the air lock. So, I’m jus gonna turn this up? What flow rate do you want? – [Andrea] Just go to 100, 100 is good. Then you go purge for five minutes. – [Destin] Five minute purge? – [Andrea] Uh-huh. – [Destin] And so that’s
purging the airlock, which is there which is
where I put the tools.
[Andrea] Exactly. And you’re gonna reach and get the tools, or she’s gonna do that. – She’s gonna do it when she comes in, she’s gonna turn the
airlock off, the flow,
[Destin] Ok and then she’s gonna reach
in and pull in the tool. – [Destin] What are these I’m looking at? – [Andrea] Datapacks, which is
the history of every, every, this is what NASA tells us to do. We get curatory orders that
tell you exactly what to do and this was done in 1985, okay now these of course are, and the first thing I
told you we had to do was weigh the rock to make sure that the rock is within tolerance. So I did this back in 1985. – [Destin] Did you really?
You’re not that old. – I know, somebody forged this. (laughing)
Who did that? (laughing) And, this is the first thing you do. – [Destin] Okay– [Andrea] You take a picture of the
rock from whatever side you, this is the bottom face. Then you walk to the other
side, and you take the top face. That’s where you want the
saw to go right there, and it’s gonna come out right there. – [Destin] What kind of saw do you use? – Bandsaw, it’s the old (indisctinct) meat cutter that was modified
so it has a diamond edge blade so that no oil or lubricants is used, ’cause that would contaminate
the surface of the sample. We’ll show it to you, it’s right over in the other room, so. – [Destin] Cool, so you saw it? – [Andrea] Yes, and as you saw it, every time a piece break off you have to stop and take a picture. Now 15459,0 is the parent. Comma zero is the parent of every rock, but every time a piece
breaks off, you take a picture and give it a number. – Wow.
– Because as you’re going through, see how
those pieces are breaking? – [Destin] Oh so right here,
so you got the little pieces. – [Andrea] You got a whole
bunch of pieces breaking off. You gotta put it back together. – [Destin] Oh my goodness. – [Andrea] Like a puzzle. – [Destin] And then you also
have to figure out the– – [Andrea] You have to
know every number for it. – Really?
– Absolutely. Because see if you got
this little white piece off that number 254 [Destin] Right– years ago and now you wanna do
studies of the same bit and somebody has used it up, you can actually come
and find the other part that’s on 252 right there
of the same mineral. – [Destin] Good gracious. – So you have to know where
every sample came from. We know if a rock has been
broken up into 2000 pieces literally from looking at the pictures you could know exactly how
to put it back together and know where all the pieces came from. – [Destin] Take just a
second to think about how complex this problem is. Every single angle is photographed, some parts even down to
the microscopic level so you can put the
entire rock back together with nothing but
photographs and paperwork. One thing you’ll see
in most of these photos of the moon rocks is these
little cubes off to the side that I like to call letter dice. – [Andrea] The cube, north
south east west top bottom, you see the cubes just in there? The astronauts took pictures
of the sample on the moon and gave them orientation
and we keep that orientation. If we break and flip the
rock we flip the cube so that we’ll know exactly
where the sample was positioned in respect to the location on the moon, and I’m gonna show you a picture
of that in a few minutes. – [Destin] I would’ve never
thought to think about how important it was. [Andrea] the detail? – It’s very important
because you wanna know if it was exposed to cosmic
rays, solar wind, whatever. What was the depth? Was sitting
on the surface of the moon? Was it buried underneath something? All of that is important in the research that the PIs are doing. – These are not letter dice, which, if you say letter dice people will make fun of you won’t they? – They’re orientation cubes. – [Destin] Orientation cubes? – Yeah, I’m glad I know that now. – [Destin] Okay what do we
have, what are the letters? – So, y’know, north, south, east and west and then top and bottom. – Gotcha, okay, letter dice. (laughing) You’ve forgotten more about the moon than most people will
ever know, haven’t you? – (laughs) and I have forgotten… – [Destin] (laughs) That’s amazing . – And this is an Apollo 11 soil sample. – [Destin] Really? – You can hold this. – [Destin] I can hold it? I would love to hold that. – It’s Apollo 11 sample,
what’s the number? – [Destin] 10071– – Comma. – [Destin] Comma 11, but hold on there’s, you said it’s broken apart. – Yeah, this is comma 11
so there’s a comma 12, there’s a comma 15, there’s a comma 100, but this is once it gets
this number comma 11– – [Destin] So there was a sample and you just took some out and that’s those,
[Andrea] Yes. together are the sample. – Exactly.
– That’s amazing. – This is a returned sample so it actually has gone outside, because they did
their studies and analysis it could’ve been in one
piece when they got it and now it came back
broken into these pieces. But they still have to return the sample. – Andrea let me hold it. – They still have to. (laughs) – It’s in a bag, I don’t
care, I got to hold it. Thank you. I really appreciate that. Thank you for all your time,
ladies, it was amazing. I appreciate that. So, I’m Destin you’re
getting Smarter Every Day, have a good one. It was awesome. A huge thank you to Johnson Space Center for actually letting
me go into the facility where they store the moon rocks, I am very grateful thank you Gordon, thank you Andrea, it’s a huge deal. Also thanks to the US
Space and Rocket Center for letting me film on the moon. There’s two things you
can do if you want to, number one is you can subscribe to Smarter Every Day, if you’d like to, if you like this kinda thing. Number two is consider going to watch one of these videos from our friends. One is Joe Hanson from
It’s “Okay To Be Smart”, he talks about what we actually
learn from these rocks. And the other one is Brady Haran my buddy, he’s got a channel called “Objectvity”, he’s taught specifically
about the genesis rock which is a really cool rock that taught us a ton of stuff. I’m Destin, you’re
getting Smarter Every Day, have a good one, I will
now slow down my footage. (beep) (laughing) Does that work at all? (laughing)