WASHINGTON-US space agency NASA has selected nine teams to study the moon samples collected during the Apollo missions in the 1970s.

“Stored untouched for approximately 50 years, I’m excited the samples will be opened for the first time to be studied by a new generation of scientists,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, tweeted on Monday.

The lunar rocks and soil to be studied are samples collected from Apollo missions 15, 16, and 17, some of which have never been exposed to the Earth’s atmosphere.

In an online statement, NASA mentioned in particular the sample taken from beneath the lunar regolith during Apollo mission 17, which could help scientists “study the rock layers exactly as they existed on the Moon.”

“By studying these precious lunar samples for the first time, a new generation of scientists will help advance our understanding of our lunar neighbor and prepare for the next era of exploration of the Moon and beyond,” Zurbuchen said.

The nine teams include four NASA teams and four universities’ research teams, as well as a team from the US Naval Research Laboratory, sharing an award of 8 million US dollars together.