Lunar sample processing has entered the 21st century: an Apollo 16 Lunar Processing Glovebox in the Pristine Sample Laboratory at NASA Johnson Space Center has received its first upgrade since the late 1970’s. Cabinet 38, one of two cabinets dedicated to the processing of Apollo 16 lunar samples, has been fitted with improvements which will streamline sample processing, support real-time interaction with scientists from their laboratories and offices and continue to protect lunar samples from terrestrial contamination.
New LED lighting, a digital balance, a cabinet-mounted overhead camera and all-in-one-touch-screen computer interface make handling and processing Apollo samples more effortless. The balance and camera integrate with new software to allow sample weight measurement and imagery to be automatically uploaded to the lunar database, which eliminates the need for processors to manually record data and later transcribe it into the database.
Scientists involved in lunar research will be excited about the interactive upgrades. New web conferencing capabilities allows scientists to examine samples in the cabinet in real-time through live camera and microscope feeds. Scientists have the capability to examine samples through technology to determine feasibility for their research from their home base, rather than having to travel to Houston to do so.
Improvements were also made to increase contamination control. New windows, gaskets and gloves were all chosen to minimize outgassing and particle shedding. This continues the 40+ year mission of NASA’s Astromaterials Acquisition and Curation Office to protect and preserve these national treasures.
See it for yourself – a live demonstration of the new cabinet in action will be on display at the Jacobs booth at the 2015 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. For more information, don’t miss Mike Calaway’s poster, Lunar Processing Cabinet 2.0: Retrofitting Gloveboxes into the 21st Century, in the Tuesday evening poster session, March 17, 2015!