They are serious about the "Don't Touch the Pristine Moon Rocks" rule. And 80% is still pristine material. An article (with video)
on the facility holding the moon rocks.
Only five people in the world get to routinely handle these precious pebbles, sample processor Charis Krysher tells me. She’s one of them. But even Krysher and the lucky few can’t touch the samples directly. To pick up an Apollo rock, Krysher must either use stainless steel tweezers or slide her fingers into a third set of gloves made of Teflon.
All this effort is to protect the 382 kilograms of rocks, core samples, pebbles, sand and dust lifted from the moon during the six Apollo landings from 1969 through 1972. Those priceless samples are still offering fresh details about how the moon — and the entire solar system — formed and evolved. The rocks have revealed the rough ages of all the rocky planets’ surfaces and informed debate about whether an ancient reshuffling of the outer planets caused a bombardment of meteorites on Earth (SN Online: 9/12/16).
Since those first bits of moon arrived, NASA has sent about 50,000 individual samples to 500 research labs in more than 15 countries. Even with all that sharing, upward of 80 percent of the original haul is still untouched. Keeping with NASA’s hypercareful approach, nearly 15 percent of that lot is stored in a vault at the White Sands Test Facility near Las Cruces, N.M., a roughly 1,300-kilometer drive from Houston.
Designers also constructed this boxy, beige building in Houston, which opened in 1979, with certain disasters in mind. The structure is hurricane-resistant, and the pristine sample lab is one story above ground level to avoid flooding."
NASA wouldn’t let our reporter touch the Apollo moon rocks. Here’s why that’s a good thing.www.sciencenews.org