Moon Rocks and Asteroids at NASA's Johnson Space Center

ABC News' Gina Sunseri talks with planetary scientist Kevin Righter about asteroid missions and what we are still learning from moon rocks.
13:19 | 09/30/16

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Transcript for Moon Rocks and Asteroids at NASA's Johnson Space Center
Good morning who are looking at a sample of rock that the Apollo eleven crew brought back from the moon fifty years ago. And we are here at the Johnson Space Center I'm use this area and we're here at Johnson space than we are in that lunar. We're gonna toss in the experts here about what we're learning from all of the science. The Sox wrestlers that I have which crashed plan today I really am these rocks good morning. Kevin would you. She felt. Please go away. Kevin right here on Antarctic meteorite curator here at Johnson Space Center. What tell us about this room science see you in here. Well this is the Kristi example. In the in the lunar that are laboratory. Johnson space and what what you see in this laugh. Are numbered nitrogen pass. And that's. All falls. All those roles in. Our process. Prepare. Sent out. Scientists all around. Let's look Apollo sixteen over here this cabinet. Tell me about this Apollo sixteen example that's kind of up big rock dissident I was fighting just didn't get much from the moon but actually got a lot of things didn't she. Yeah that's that's a policy team returned a lot of what we call wrenches and there. There mixtures various rock types. The Apollo sixteen samples a lot of directions or if you look at the news. There from a rough mountainous terrain on the news. As as opposed to this news dark plains wary final assault. So the user user and our city records. And they contained class. Material from the moon that's ancient. It goes back to the very earliest its Treo. That it's really practice site. Now were all dressed very is currently are. I mean this is still rooms to tell me why we don't want to bring any contamination in this room. Right well if you think about the lunar surface it's essentially a Matt yeah. You know the weather service is essentially act it's it's an error apparently bought. And so that samples in that environment for our billions of years. When they're collected and rob act we wanted to keep ahead in the count me. Inert and on reacted atmosphere. And we. He. As pristine as possible so. They're kept in the room. And this is he waiting rooms is that we room and clear the environment. What's the samples stored handled process. Picked me an example people were featured. To for. It's meant he samples me Kristi it's possible. What are you still learning from these rocks I mean this is fifty years later is there anything new. Absolutely yes. Some of the most because the number of that there has happened over here yet this this cap it is. Especially set up to displace them Moore spectacular. Samples. We have. From the moon and five samples and hear from from different. Problems three different the Apollo missions. So they're well. There are samples and hear from Apollo fifteen Apollo sixteen and Apollo seventeen. And the samples were selected. For this cabinet because they illustrate some of the basic. Rock types that we see on them so the two. That are that sit up higher. That you see they have gas bubbles. They're kind of the secular looking those are both assaults. Nana again I'll mention if you looking at the moon and easy that is our. Smooth start planes. That's where these samples come from this move assaulting what we call mare. Portions of them the other three samples. That you see here. Our. That that's it two of them sit lower that are they're from the highlands are the mountainous portions of them. They're. They have. They're rich and it mineral call. Classically style Clark that's the white. Light material that you see on this this wondering in front of your name and he. In addition to that the to the to limit on the right end over here. Are what we call Brett says and they formed by. Multiple. Impacts on the moon so another body. Impacts the moon. Creates. Thick layer broken fragments of of the rock types and then they get with a five into Iraq. Multiple times some of these rocks pull billions of years of history of impacts. And so. These these rock types illustrate sort of that the two and the two end members. Rock types we have so sometimes they get it together and it assaults and an hour the sites mixed together and perhaps. Do we at least ten rockets on earth. We have not stopped selling this assaults we have. If if he'd been to places like Hawaii parents when you might receive approximately. Absolve. The eight and parents like dresses are distinct we have and our site on here but he's not Ecevit. So fifty years after this you still have you said we brought home how many hundreds of pounds of rocks that woman. Error 848. Pounds 388 pilgrims had been used up at. How do we know how old these rocks are that we're looking after we have any idea yeah others there's been a lot of work. The rocks to determine the age this age is kind of a fundamental characteristic we wanna know and rob. The assaults. Have an age range between them 33. And three point nine billion. Years so they're a little bit younger and in that sounds very old but they're little bit younger. Than the than the white. Phelps horror and art counts are rich in north incites those are the older samples things and they date back to four point four. So almost to the to the origin. The eight solar system not not quite at all but there an analyst. We're here partially today because this was the day that the European Space Agency sent Rosanna into its Cox. How excited are you even though resented it is ending. It's ending with a bang because that's something that really good information for you tell me about him. Yeah that's Rosetta mission was that spectacular success. The eight. Image listeners. Pot. And orbiter. Hit that's and act spectacular car. It is users. Which surprise. The scientific world. Because it explode holders. Holders you know. Seniors. Service as well as our business. And a user. Gassing us being expelled from. The service. Our jobs material lawfully. News. The off his faith as they orders me it's. Not that. The one of the interesting things Friday's big hits. There are certain features. And actually turn. The spacecraft. To crack and didn't want this. Today to try to. The walls. Creditors learn more. Or the troops. He sees you. And Reid wants to silence Rex a couple of weeks ago. How excited you about that mission that's been to bring some good samples back to this room isn't it time yet. Well yeah we're building yes very exciting for us civilians ample collection. For us today and ask materials creation group and rebuilding mode corrections I didn't laugh right now we'll be different are building. But the laugh. We'll be specially. As or those claims that samples. The asteroid. Osiris Rex will visit and it is partners. Current issues. Away. It's similar. Overall. Half of the materials in the aspirin so. We're very anxious to get peace and learn more about that. That material. It's after. And also. Over time in packed her so we want to learn about them heroes act in her. You have other examples here but they're not as Christine it pretty much anything that falls back to earth from space ends up here. Talking about those samples from other good to have they're not correct. Well it may have. One of the 22 of our programs. That feed our elections here are. Unit program. And talk to us program. And if elected. And that's part reflected in the stratosphere. And then returned to hurt. Interactive media what ice caps and stop all. And all right here. Those materials have experienced these aren't here to the loose and it's still hope. Really important information. Not only after ago where a lot of them come. Eight also represented samples from Mars there the only. Police in world. That we have Mars. You in your election knowledge here. Likely. And we have seen this from the blues well and our lives. The the B movie here and give us information. That's very. We have here Collins returned. It's makes a very valuable. Overall picture we're we have detailed information from specific sites from the Apollo mission and then we have more representative. Samples. From that that come to us in the form of meteorites. You say the technology has changed in the last fifty years so we're still getting new information from. These samples 'cause of technology change give me an example what you're talking about. Yes so others. One really. Huge field of study that's developed in the last I would say 55 years. Has been the ability to measures small amounts of water. In. Geological materials. And. This was not. This is not a capability in the seventies or the eighties or even in the ninety's. So having. Somewhere around 80%. Via Paulson of the Apollo samples still available for study. Has allowed. It's your generation of scientists using new techniques to discover. More about water. So that the water content of the moon is important because if you look at the bigger earth has oceans of water. The moon is relatively. Dry out at least that's what we thought were thirty or forty years but the minute the new measurements of water. In the Apollo samples have made people realize that actually didn't have a lot. That little piece of information. As required scientists to reevaluate. Their thinking about. The origin hear him. And it's it's just it's a great silence scientifically rich time to be involved. When your research. That's one example there are other examples too different techniques that all always contribute to more. To. Does not plan and hypothesis testing for the origin of. Doctor writer thank you very much. The we have been this live this morning from the little laugh at the Johnson space center for ABC news FaceBook live. We'll see next week about.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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