Believe it or not, after the astronauts returned from the historic Apollo 11 mission, cockroaches, birds, fish, and other animals were fed and injected with the lunar material brought back to Earth.
While NASA still has the majority of the moon rocks collected, a small amount were dedicated to an experiment to make sure that the samples were safe to keep on Earth. Although most scientists didn’t think that the samples brought back were contaminated, they couldn’t leave anything to chance.
Although the rocks were an incredible gift to science, they could have also put all of terrestrial life on Earth at risk. So, they began running tests on animals to ensure that the moon samples aren’t dangerous.
According to Charles Berry, the man in charge of medical operations during Apollo, “We had to prove that we weren’t going to contaminate not only human beings, but we weren’t going to contaminate fish and birds and animals and plants and you name it.”
After the astronauts had arrived back on Earth, they were placed into quarantine where they remained for three weeks. During that time, a collection of mice were placed in quarantine and injected with lunar material. Supposedly, the mice were as closely monitored as the astronauts.
If nothing negative happened to the mice, the astronauts would most likely be released on time. However, if the lunar material had adverse effects, they would be kept for further studying. Along with mice, other animals were exposed such as Japanese quail, German cockroaches, brown shrimp, and more.
NASA observed the animals for over a month, and it was concluded that the lunar material had no adverse effects on the animals in question. On top of animals, scientists also conducted experiments on plants, growing a variety of different seeds in lunar soil.
With the evidence given, since Apollo 14, there hasn’t been as strict of quarantines for returning astronauts, and NASA has stopped testing on plants and animals.