Get closer than ever before with some of our science and space exploration learning center’s artifacts and exhibits in our new video series, “History Up Close.” Today, we are exploring a special artifact we have in honor of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 13.

When the Apollo 13 astronauts had to leave the Command Module and take refuge in the Lunar Module for their return flight, it left some potentially deadly problems to solve. The Lunar Module was designed for two astronauts in a short lunar stay. Its air scrubbers were not meant to filter out the levels of carbon dioxide necessary for three astronauts over an extended period of time.

Compounding the problem was that the carbon dioxide scrubbers for the Command Module were square, not round like the Lunar Module’s.

Enter NASA’s intrepid engineers. A team working at Mission Control designed this carbon dioxide scrubber, which fit a square peg into a round hole. Using only what the Apollo 13 astronauts had on hand, these engineers were able to design a procedure which kept the astronauts safe for their voyage home.

Get up close with this special piece of history.

When the center reopens, you can see his historic artifact in our Starship Gallery space exploration timeline.