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.

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Republicans and Dems react to Coney Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation

President Trump stands with Judge Amy Coney Barrett after she took the constitutional oath to serve as a Supreme Court justice during a White House ceremony Monday night .Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

President Trump said Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Senate confirmation to the Supreme Court and her subsequent taking of the constitutional oath Monday was a "momentous day," as she she vowed to serve "without any fear or favour."

  • But as Republicans applauded the third conservative justice in four years, many Democrats including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) warned of consequences to the rush to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ahead of the Nov. 3 election, with progressives leading calls to expand the court.
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CRISPR pioneer: "Science is on the ballot" in 2020

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

In her three decades in science, Jennifer Doudna said she has seen a gradual erosion of trust in the profession, but the recent Nobel Prize winner told "Axios on HBO" that the institution itself has been under assault from the current administration.

  • "I think science is on the ballot," Doudna said in the interview.

Why it matters: That has manifested itself in everything from how the federal government approaches climate change to the pandemic.