Just this past Tuesday, NASA opened up some lunar samples that were brought back from the Apollo 17 mission. One of those samples was an untouched Moon rock.
NASA has said that the purpose of opening up tests into Apollo 17's samples is to gain insight into the correct techniques to practice for samples that will be returned from the Artemis mission. Francis McCubbin, NASA's astromaterials curator, said that "Opening these samples now will enable new scientific discoveries about the Moon and will allow a new generation of scientists to refine their techniques to better study future samples returned by Artemis astronauts."
CNN reports that most of the samples that were brought back from the Apollo 17 mission have already been under study by scientists at NASA, but a separate group of samples was set aside and stored for testing with more advanced technology. Dr. Sarah Noble, an ANGSA program scientist, said: "We are able to make measurements today that were just not possible during the years of the Apollo program."
She continued and said, "The analysis of these samples will maximize the science return from Apollo, as well as enable a new generation of scientists and curators to refine their techniques and help prepare future explorers for lunar missions anticipated in the 2020s and beyond."
Charles Shearer, science co-lead for ANGSA also spoke out, saying "The findings from these samples will provide NASA new insights into the Moon, including the history of impacts on the lunar surface, how landslides occur on the lunar surface, and how the Moon's crust has evolved over time. This research will help NASA better understand how volatile reservoirs develop, evolve and interact on the Moon and other planetary bodies."
NASA plan on returning astronauts to the Moon's surface by 2024, and when they arrive, they will have the latest instruments equipped to ensure the best possible research can be conducted.