space flights through Apollo 11 concentrated on development
and operations, later Apollo missions, then Skylab and, more
recently and to an even greater extent, space shuttle and ISS
flights have focused on operations, science and applications.
Reorganizations of the center's directorates in the early
1970s denoted the rising significance of science and
applications in space flight programs. The Lunar Samples
Office, a Planetary and Earth Sciences Division and a separate
Earth Observations Aircraft Program Office sprung up across
the center. Today JSC remains NASA's repository for lunar
samples and its home for the study of the science and medicine
of space flight.
Lab activity (Bldg. 37) preparations for lunar material to be
brought back from moon on Apollo 11, scheduled for July 1969.
Manned Spacecraft Center, Houston,
first moon rocks of the late 1960s to today's Martian
meteorites, JSC scientists have led the way in the study of
fascinating rocks to better understand how our solar system,
and perhaps life itself, came into being. The curators of
these Apollo moon rocks and Antarctic meteorites are preparing
for the return of samples by two current NASA missions:
Genesis will collect samples of the solar wind and Stardust
will return samples of Comet Wild 2. Meanwhile the team is
developing plans to bring home samples of Martian soil and
rocks to continue the search for life beyond Earth.
beginnings of the space program, flight surgeons and life
sciences researchers have played an important role in the
human space flight team. Flight surgeons helped select the
first astronauts and worked with them to better understand how
the human body would react to space travel.
This 4.5 billion year old rock, labeled
meteorite ALH84001, is believed to have once been a part
of Mars and to contain fossil evidence that primitive
life may have existed on Mars more than 3.6 billion
years ago. The rock is a portion of a meteorite that was
dislodged from Mars by a huge impact about 16 million
years ago and that fell to Earth in Antarctica 13,000
years ago. The meteorite was found in Allan Hills ice
field, Antarctica, by an annual expedition of the
National Science Foundationís Antarctic Meteorite
Program in 1984. It is preserved for study at the
Johnson Space Centerís (JSC) Meteorite Processing
Laboratory in Houston, Texas. This particular photo
accompanied a 1996 news release by JSC's Public Affairs
Office regarding new information on the Allan Hills
than 40 years, astronauts, in cooperation with life scientists,
have studied adaptation to space. One of the three objectives
of the Mercury Program was to observe human performance during
launch, Earth orbit and landing. What began with the first
EKG transmitted from Shepard's Mercury capsule became weeklong
medical experiments aboard the space shuttle and today's continuing,
in-depth scientific investigations aboard the International
physicians have themselves become astronauts. In 1965, Dr.
Kerwin was among those selected as part of the first group of
scientist-astronauts. Drs. Donald Holmquest, Story Musgrave
and William Thornton joined him two years later. Kerwin,
Musgrave and Thornton would each have a profound effect on the
nation's space program, with Kerwin, as discussed, flying
aboard Skylab and Thornton and Musgrave playing key roles in
the Space Shuttle Program.
The first Apollo 11 sample return container,
with lunar surface material inside, is unloaded at the
Lunar Receiving Laboratory, Building 37, Manned
Spacecraft Center. The lunar samples were collected by
astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr.
during their lunar surface extravehicular
last 40 years, the efforts of NASA's life sciences researchers
have led to a better understanding of human reaction to living
in the space environment and to the development of
countermeasures to overcome the negative aspects of living in
the space environment," said Dr. Sam Pool, assistant director
for space medicine in JSC's Office of Bioastronautics.
"Today's life scientists perform peer-reviewed research to
help astronauts not only live in space, but thrive there.
Research into the neurological system, the cardiovascular
system, nutrition, and bone density are just a few of the many
important areas of research to ensure humans will be fully
prepared for our next journey-the exploration of our solar