PUBLISHED: 17:08, Thu, Nov 5, 2020 | UPDATED: 17:09, Thu, Nov 5, 2020
Under the Artemis programme, two astronauts will return to the lunar surface by 2024, with the space agency’s new discovery of pockets of water bolstering the opportunity to establish a permanent base. It will be the first time humans have stepped foot on the Moon since the termination of the Apollo Project. Following the heroics of Apollo 11, which saw the first two men – Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin – land on the Moon, NASA sent their sixth crewed mission just months later.
But Discovery Channel’s ’NASA’s Unexplained Files’ revealed how astronauts Alan Bean and Pete Conrad returned to Earth with more than they expected.
The narrator said: “Apollo 12 astronauts return to Earth carrying an unexpected payload.
“Scientists and astronauts struggle to explain the mystery.”
Space historian Amy Shira Teitel explained the missions the pair had been given.
Scientists made a bizarre discovery on the equipment (Image: GETTY/DISCOVERY)
Space historian Amy Shira Teitel (Image: DISCOVERY)
She said: “Apollo 12 was the second manned lunar landing mission and one of its goals was to recover hardware from the Surveyor-3 probe that had landed two years earlier.
“They wanted to see what the lunar environment did to something that was exposed to the surface.”
Astronomer Seth Shostak detailed to viewers why NASA was interested in leaving hardware on the Moon.
He said: “It was an important experiment because if you’re ever going to build a base on the Moon, you need to know if dust will get into everything.
“What about the fact there is no air, what about the temperature?
READ MORE: 'Somebody’s been here!' Bizarre 'footprints' across Moon baffled NASA scientists
Astronomer Seth Shostak spoke during the series