Moon rocks to be studied at University of Tennessee

Closeup of moon surface texture moon tile moon rocks / Getty Images

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville will help analyze moon rocks collected decades ago and never before opened.

NASA calls the project the Apollo Next Generation Sample Analysis Program, and it's part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing in 1969.

UT Professor Molly McCanta says NASA kept the samples sealed hoping for better research technology, and that has happened.

McCanta teamed up with researchers at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois and the University of Massachusetts to analyze rocks collected during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

McCanta's research begins next month and runs for three years. The researchers will meet at NASA Johnson Space Center in Texas to determine how best to open the samples and transport them.