NASA: Apollo Lunar Samples Were Likely Contaminated

In a report on Wednesday, NASA stated that the amino acids found in lunar samples from the Apolla era are likely the result of contamination from Earth, though there are a couple other possibilities. The space agency came to this conclusion due to the fact that "the lunar surface is completely inhospitable for known forms of life" — meaning the organic matter isn't likely to have actually originated from the moon.

The researchers working on the matter were doing so with NASA funding, according to the space agency. The organic matter found in the lunar samples has been a long-running mystery, with analysis revealing small amounts of amino acids. While that could be exciting, in that amino acids are an essential part of life, it was also very unlikely that they originated from the lunar landscape.

A total of four possibilities have been explored as possible sources of the organic matter, with the greatest likelihood being contamination from Earth — or contamination that happened after the samples returned to our planet. Another possibility is contamination from rocket exhaust that could have introduced precursor molecules for forming the amino acids.

Next is line is solar wind, which may have introduced elements that form amino acids, presenting a different source of contamination. And, finally, there's the possibility of a chemical reaction within an asteroid having formed the amino acids, which were then deposited on the moon when the asteroids collided.

All in all, the researchers have concluded that contamination from Earth is most likely the right answer.

SOURCE: NASA