Apollo’s Most Important Discovery (Inside NASA’s Moon Rock Vault!)

Apollo’s Most Important Discovery (Inside NASA’s Moon Rock Vault!)


Hey smart people, Joe here. This is our planet. And this is the moon. And this is how far apart they ACTUALLY are,
to scale. You might not know this, but compared to other
moons in our solar system, our moon is weird. It’s 1/80th of Earth’s mass, which may
not sound like a lot, but it’s ridiculously big compared to the size of the planet it
orbits. For comparison, Saturn’s largest moon Titan
is this big compared to our moon, but less than 1/4000th of its host planet’s mass! So how the heck did this chubby little nugget–the
moon we call THE MOON–form? The answer to that question is locked inside
a vault at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, right down the road in Houston, Texas. And I recently paid them a visit and in the
process got closer to the moon than I ever thought possible. Joe:  Does anybody have the combination to
this thing? Joe: This looks like a vault. Ryan: It turns out it is a vault. Joe:   
Ryan: So this is a US Federal Reserve Bank vault from 1978
Joe: Really? That’s pretty cool. Joe: What’s inside is worth more than money
Ryan: There is no price on what’s inside this. 70% of the moon rocks on earth are inside
this vault. Joe: 70% of the moon rocks are in there. That is very important room. Ryan: Yes. Joe: Can we, can we go in? Ryan: We can. You wanna open the door? Joe: Yes! I want to open the door. That door weighs more than 4000 kilograms. And behind it are more than 300 kilograms
of rocks brought back to Earth by astronauts on six of the Apollo missions. Back in the 1960s, even though scientists
had figured out enough science to put people on the moon, they still didn’t know how
it had formed. The rocks we brought back were the key to
unlocking this centuries-long mystery. Some scientists, like Charles Darwin’s son
George, had thought maybe the Earth once spun so fast that a chunk ripped off. Others thought the moon formed elsewhere in
the solar system and was captured by Earth’s gravity. Most of these original theories sound pretty
loony. Incidentally, the words “loony” or “lunacy”
come from the old idea that the moon made people temporarily insane. But then in 1969, during the very first moonwalk, one astronaut made a lucky decision that gave
scientists the hint they’d been waiting for. In July 1969 NASA blasted three men to the
moon aboard Apollo 11, and on July 20th Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin touched down in
the Sea of Tranquility. They took some small steps, a few giant leaps,
and a lot of pictures. And then, at the last minute, right before
they launched back to Earth, this happened: Joe: These come from Apollo 11 right? Ryan: Yep. This was the last sample collected on Apollo
11, as Neil Armstrong’s outside the LEM, the lunar excursion module, getting ready to seal
up the rock box. He looked inside and thought it looks kind
of empty. And so what he decided to do is just shovel
four shovels fulls of dirt into the, uh, the rock box and then sealed it up. And it turned out being this sample, and it
was the largest single sample of brought back from Apollo 11. And that became a really important sample
because as people looked through it, they found little fragments of white rock and they’re
like, oh, it’s anorthosite. That’s weird. Why would there be anorthosite on the moon? Yep! That’s right. Anorthosite! On the moon! Wait, why is that weird? You know what? To understand why this scoop of soil was such
a big deal, we need to back this story up a little bit. To 1609… … in Florence, Italy, where a guy named
Galileo Galilei had taken a new invention called a Perspicillum and aimed it at the
moon. Today, we call that invention a telescope. Across the terminator, the line of light and
shadow stretching across the partial moon, Galileo saw it had areas of high and low terrain. He thought that, like on Earth, the darker,
low-lying areas were seas, so he called them “maria”. Apollo 11 touched down in one of these, the
“Sea of Tranquility”. The moon’s highlands, on the other hand,
were lighter in color, like this spot where Apollo 16 landed. And many of the shadowy shapes Galileo saw
we later realized were impact craters. All of this together told us that the moon
was really, really old, and it had gotten its butt kicked for a really long time. After billions of years of impacts with space
rocks the outer 5 to 15 meters of the moon’s surface had been ground up into fine-grained
stuff called “regolith”. And that’s the sandy stuff Neil Armstrong
scooped up. Back on Earth, scientists painstakingly counted
1,676 individual grains of regolith in Neil’s shovelful, and in that they found 84 specks
of white stuff that they didn’t expect to find there. This sent NASA scientists on a Sherlock Holmes-style
hunt for an explanation. For that white anorthosite to get to the Sea
of Tranquility, it must have been blasted there by a giant impact, like a meteorite,
from hundreds of km away in the moon’s highlands, those lighter areas. And if the highlands–which cover most of
the moon–were anorthosite, that meant most of the moon was covered in that white rock…
elementary. Ryan: To make anorthosite the main rock from
the moon, be this white anorthosite, you need to have a global ocean of magma that covers
the entire moon, that’s hundreds if not thousands of kilometers thick. Let’s have a little rock talk. From studying Earth we know anorthosite forms
in a very special way. It’s an igneous rock, meaning it forms from
cooling lava or magma. As magma cools and crystallizes, anorthosite
floats to the top, because it’s lighter and less dense than other stuff in the magma. Like how as ice solidifies out of liquid water,
it floats because it’s less dense. So for the moon’s surface to be covered
in this white stuff, the moon must have melted at some point. Like, the whole thing. A moon that was all magma. A Magmoon. But now scientists had a different mystery
to solve: How the heck do you melt a moon? Ryan: And then a guy named John Wood came
up with this crazy idea that the moon formed through a giant impact, all based on these
millimeter sized fragments from one spot in the moon. And everyone’s like, “naw!” This is called the giant impact hypothesis. Earth gets smacked by another planet-sized
thing, the giant, melted cloud of debris condenses into our moon, creating a thousand-km-thick
ocean of magma. That’s a pretty loony story too, but none
of those other older theories about the moon’s formation could explain ALL of its weirdness,
like why the moon’s core is so small and so light compared to Earth’s core, or why
the moon has slowly been moving farther away from Earth for billions of years, or why the
Earth and moon are made of the same elements and atomic isotopes. The giant impact theory could explain all
of these, but to convince people that something collided with the Earth 4 and a half billion
years ago and created a magmoon… scientists needed a little more evidence. Ryan: This is what we call the Genesis Rock. 15415 it was collected on the Apollo 15 mission
and the Apollo 15 site was selected in part to find this rock. When they got it back and they did the studies
on it. This was the rock that allowed scientists
to unlock how the moon formed. A body the size of Mars slammed into the Earth
just after the Earth formed. A ring of debris formed around the Earth,
sort of like Saturn’s rings, unlike Saturn’s rings that all collected into our moon. So all the individual pieces collided together
and formed our moon. So every impact that brought the different
pieces together, kinetic energy, It produced heat and so you melted the outer hundreds
and probably thousand kilometers. There’s an ocean of magma thousand kilometers
deep. So now you’ve got this giant of magma, lava. And as it cools, things start to crystallize
and the heavy minerals would sink out and the light minerals would float. And it turns out this white mineral plagioclase
is less dense and it floated to the surface. So you have rock bergs floating in an ocean
of magma and eventually you have nothing but rock bergs and the entire surface is covered
with this anorthosite. And then you have billions of years of impacts
and things get smashed and moved around. But this is the original piece. It showed us how things formed. Anorthosites like the Genesis Rock turn out
to be the oldest rocks on the moon. They date from the earliest age of the solar
system, from the time when Earth and the other planets were just forming, and thanks to us
putting a few humans on the moon to collect rocks, scientists were finally able to write
the story of how the moon was created. And that story is a pretty violent one. But I think behind this story, there’s something
maybe even more significant. The journey to the moon wasn’t all about
science at first, it began as a race between the US and the Soviet Union to build technology,
and to prove their military supremacy to each other and the world. But moon rocks helped change that. We began to see space as a place for science
that the whole world could use, and by the end of the Apollo era, we weren’t just sending
Air Force rocket jockeys up there, we were sending scientists. And I think that changed NASA’s mission
forever. The last man on the moon, Gene Cernan, summed
this idea up beautifully just before humans left the lunar surface for the last time. Despite their old age, we’re still learning
new things from the moon rocks. The history of the moon isn’t wrapped up
just yet. Maybe we’ll go back one day and science
that chubby nugget a little bit more. This has been absolutely incredible. I, my mind has been blown not only about like
the history of the moon, but just how amazing is the science that NASA been doing. Thank you so much for letting us in here. Thanks for the awesome outfit. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Stay curious! Um, so do I get like, take a sample? Oh, yeah, no, no. Yeah. Even tho I didn’t get to keep a moon rock.This was an incredible video to make, I feel really
lucky that I got to share this with you. And you can keep your brain on the moon a
little longer, because some of our friends just put out videos from the NASA moon rock
vault too. So head over to Smarter Every Day and Objectivity
where Destin and Brady have some more cool Apollo moon rock science for you. I’ll put links to those down in the description,
or just check out the end of this video and you can find links there.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. JUST TO CLARIFY: I did not actually get a moon rock. That was a joke. There was no lunar heist. No NASA caper. 🤓
    What's inside NASA's moon rock vault? Duh… MOON ROCKS! But there's also a LOT MORE. Inside that vault we can find the story of the moon itself. Geology rocks, huh? Be sure to check out videos from our friends Smarter Every Day and Objectivity, too.

    I'm on Twitter and Instagram @DrJoeHanson/@okaytobesmart go tag yourself watching this video!

  2. I thought it was said that no moon rocks were brought back because some lady said when she was a little girl she got space dust from one of the astronauts and they said she lied because they couldn’t bring anything back from the moon. Maybe I’m stupid

  3. NASA doesn't have any "moon rocks", because they never went to the moon. "It's okay to be smart" apparently isn't okay – no?

  4. For another perspective, consider watching "A funny thing happened on the way to the moon" and I think he made another documentary about the moon & or the astronauts that is very interesting. Highly interesting is the part where NONE of the astronauts will swear on an actual Bible that they walked on the moon, oh wait one finally gave in & did so but the rest refused! Also, one of the main astronauts punched the producer in the face & another kneed him in his butt. Oh yeah, they are also offered $5,000 to donate to a charity of their choice, still no takers. Bart Sibel is the producer.

  5. A total fictitios hypothesis, that NASA have come up with. Totally unreal that at the last minute Armstrong decided to scoop ip some samples
    Utter horse poo.

  6. Usa went to moon to show their power and beat the ussr space program , they donot bat an eye for science or space exploration .
    The one who really does is spacex.
    #Change my mind

  7. The "Moon Rock" Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin gave to the Prime Minister of Holland in 1969, turned out to be a FAKE…It had been discovered that it was only a piece of petrified wood!!…As for the "Vault" in this video, there is NO proof that any of those rocks came from the Moon!!….Dont be fooled by NASA bullshit!!..

  8. Ya Might have to Magnify the pyramids so It can send the frequency of airwaves to the moon……..since the moon causes the ocean tides move tomorrow Water probably would magnetize the Pyramids

  9. Something impacting earth that created the moon is not hard to believe since earth being the largest left over Mass would bend space and time and hold the moon in the earth's orbit.

  10. Why the silly surgical clothing ? Presumably the camera crew were wearing it too. But why does he put a hat on that leaves some of his hair exposed. And why doesn't the Nasa actor have to cover up his facial hair ? This is all just hollywood tv.

  11. Okay guys I'm not going to offend nobody here nobody landed on the moon believe me nobody went there there are aliens on the moon there are different kinds of aliens on the moon

  12. So let me get this straight -they need a ridiculously heavy door for their vault, they make people wear surgical clothing, but they let them keep their glasses on, wear microphones, and take a film crew in with them. Hmm. I'm still Not convinced nasa.

  13. I don't care how enthusiastic the presenter is – with his NASA T shirt, model rockets in his room and general annoying behaviour – he will never convince me that we went to the moon. Of course he has to pretend he believes it or else they would never let him film and he would be out of a job. Follow the money – they are all on the take so they will continue to lie.

  14. Bro, you need to read a book called the Bible it will answer everything. God placed the moon there it didn't just appear and the earth and the moon is not even close to a billion years old

  15. The moment dat NASA became more focused on the science part is the moment that funding and interest by the government was lost. Now NASA's funding is a joke, while billions are spent on death showers.

  16. …buuut then NASA  misplaced the 1000's of photos and hundreds of hours of mission-related video that they had spent billions to acquire.   NASA  also claims to have "lost" the technology that they once possessed and that's why we haven't t been back to the moon in half a century.   Current space missions see us going into orbit barely a few hundred miles above the Earth's surface.  NASA engineers now state that they are working on ways to get people and equipment through the deadly Van Allen radiation belt. Wake up America!

  17. Sounds far far fetched to me. Let’s see a small scale re-enactment in a lab. With all our technology,we should be able to do it easily.

  18. If the moon is a collection of shrapnel from earth, how did the moon become phase locked with the earth's rotation? I think they possibly overlooked that little tidbit.

  19. Haha moon rocks, watch a 30minute documentary on how we went to the moon and A 10 year old will tell you 100percent we did not go there.

  20. It’s funny to see when they start the video and Pics on 2:25 you see not even one star in any of the videos or pics of the landing

  21. If that's the case why is there stories on our planet that talk about before the moon appeared so literally there is stories about having no more and then out of nowhere a moon appeared are you saying those are just BS they must just be made up stories I just think it's weird how people would talk about the night sky but never add the moon into it and then later on in history people start talking about the moon like it wasn't there in the past how do they explain that

  22. 9:44 that’s 100% animated 😂 and it looks just like the other videos taken by the astronauts

    Suspicious 😒

  23. Look 7.22 and look at the shadow of the rock then you look at the shadow of the 2 idiots in and you see that you are a idiot if you beleave they been to the moon! Hahahahahahaha😘

  24. Tbh a black hole could have come along and brought another planet when earth was forming it could have smashed into earth and the moon could be the other planet….

  25. By taken some rock from the moon and bring it to earth decreases the mass of the Moon and increase the mass of Earth think about that LOL

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