NASA fed cockroaches and mice with Apollo 11 moon samples
But it has not stopped yet.
Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were able to secure moon samples from the lunar surface of the Apollo 11 mission and return them to Earth. To ensure the safety of the lunar samples on Earth, scientists said NASA had to run a series of tests to make sure that contamination was not possible.
Armstrong and Aldrin were quarantined for weeks on their return "They always wanted to know how rodents are doing," said Judith Hayes, Head of Biomedical Research and Environmental Sciences at NASA. said Space.com. "If the rodents were fine, they would probably be released on time, and if the rodents did not feel well, they would probably be more carefully and more extensively examined."
NASA also selected a number of different animals to represent other species. Birds were represented by Japanese quail; brown shrimp, pink shrimp and oysters were used to represent shellfish; Houseflies and moths joined the cockroaches to display insects; and guppies and minnows were used to represent fish.
Regarding how they all received the samples, it varied. The quails and mice received injections, lunar dust was added to the water for all aquatic species and the insects had mixed lunar samples into their food.
The only species that died were the oysters, of which scientists believe that they had more to do with them during the mating season.
"We Had To Prove That We Did not Go We wanted to contaminate not only humans but also fish, birds, animals and plants, and you name it," said Charles Berry, head of medical operations at Apollo, in an oral history , "In every biosphere on earth, we had to prove that we would not influence them, so we had to develop an amazing program that was really done for three flights – a lot of trouble."
NASA itself worked with the US Department of Agriculture to test whether plants reacted negatively to lunar material. They raised seeds in lunar soil and tested tomatoes, onions, fern, cabbage and tobacco.
"They did not find any microbial growth on the lunar samples and did not have micro-organisms that at least initially attributed them to any extraterrestrial source or lunar source," Hayes said. "And the crew had no signs of infectious disease, and all the rodents survived the trials, so everyone was fine."
It was not until after the Apollo 14 mission in 1971 that NASA felt secure enough to stop animal testing and end the quarantine process for astronaut and laboratory technicians working with lunar samples.