This year, scientists at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston will open a sealed metal tube of moon rocks that hasn't been opened since 1972.

The rocks were gathered in the Apollo 17 mission. It'll be the first time anyone has looked at an original sample in decades.

The researchers are hoping a new look at moon rock samples will help to guide future moon exploration using more modern techniques.

The timing is perfect, since NASA plans to launch new instruments to the moon early next year on the first venture since 1972.

Moon rocks aren't just cool to look at. They've helped us determine the age of key events in the solar system's 4.5 billion year history such as a major asteroid shower on earth about 500 million years after it formed.

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