NASA -- About 50 years after the first manned mission to the moon, humanity has strived to pursue returning to the lunar surface but this time, with new goals. For many scientists, the desire to go back never took the back seat. Ryan Zeigler, an employee of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), said that the project of sending astronauts back on the moon has only gotten "real" in April of this year. It was late April of this year when Zeigler received a call from the Washington, DC.
"They told me that we are going back to the moon and I simply said yes. It was only a few days after that phone call that I finally realized that it was happening," Zeigler said.
Along with the other astronauts from NASA, they knew that in order to make this travel to the moon a success, they had a lot of things to do to cover everything with half the time to do it. Although the job of the astronauts sent to the moon begins when they first set foot on the lunar surface, Zeigler's job begins as soon as these astronauts are back on Earth. He manages the Astromaterials Acquisition and Curation Office of NASA located at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. In fact, Zeigler was in charge of the care of the roughly 2,200 samples brought back by the Apollo, the first mission to the moon, which basically happened almost half a century ago.
The phone call was basically intended to give Zeigler a heads up that if the exploration to the moon is finalized, he will need to devise a plan to curate the new data that will be brought home. All the new rocks and other materials that were collected will be brought back to Earth by 2024. Though it was first thought to be brought back by 2028 the earliest, the timeline has changed significantly and this means a lot of work needs to be done to prepare.
The trouble with the plan is that everyone in NASA does not know exactly what's going to happen. The path the lander will take and the side of the moon where it will land is yet to be determined. This also means that Zeigler and his team still do not know what they could expect. The type of rocks, the size as well as the landscape where the rocks have been taken.
The samples that were previously collected by the Apollo showed us that the moon was formed certainly from the collision of the Earth and another planet in the Milky Way. This happened over 4 billion years ago. However, the details of such theory remain to be highly elusive.
"I know that the NASA team is ready to take yet another challenge. This time, the goal is to stay longer," said Bridenstine, NASA administrator.
The big news is yet to be heard as the additional budget requested by NASA is still pending the approval of the Congress.