The University of New Mexico was selected to study a rare, untouched moon sample.
NASA selected nine teams to study vacuum-sealed samples collected by Apollo 17 astronauts Harrison Schmitt and Gene Cernan in 1972. They were also awarded a share of $8 million for research.
According to the UNM Newsroom, the Apollo 17 sample comprises about 800 grams (1.8 pounds) of material. It is also still encased in a “drive tube” that was pounded into the lunar regolith to collect a core of material. That core preserved the rocks and the stratigraphy from below the surface so today’s scientists can study the rock layers exactly as they existed on the Moon.
The research will be spearheaded by Dr. Charles Shearer who is a research scientist at UNM’s Institute of Meteoritics and a research professor in the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences.