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Fresh moon rocks ready for study

Apollo 15 astronauts on the moon. Photo: NASA

A team of scientists was awarded a cache of previously unopened Apollo-era Moon rock samples this year to turn back the clock and see exactly what kinds of materials were abundant on the Moon in its early history.

Why it matters: Researchers have long been interested in figuring out exactly what’s been going on in the interior of our Moon, and this new experiment — which is happening about 50 years after the lunar rock sample was collected — could help create a more complete picture of the history of our natural satellite.

Details: The team will bombard samples of volcanic lunar glass collected during the Apollo 15 mission with photons using the Argonne National Laboratory’s Advanced Photon Source.

  • By working backwards and figuring out what minerals are found within the glass, the research team should be able to get a snapshot of what was happening on the Moon millions of years ago.
  • “This is all about how planets evolved really,” Darby Dyer, principal investigator for the experiment, tells Axios.

The backdrop: NASA saved some samples of moon rocks from the Apollo program in the hopes that scientists would be able to gain new insights with technology that was yet to be developed.

  • Eight other teams will also use untouched moon rock samples for experiments selected by NASA.
  • Dyer expects the first results from the experiments to come in March.