Sunday, 17 February, 2019

Earth's Oldest Identified Rock Was Discovered on the Moon

The rock was collected during the Apollo 14 mission in 1971 Save Save The rock was collected during the Apollo 14 mission in 1971 Credit NAS
Frank Williams | 27 January, 2019, 20:27

A piece of material that was brought back from the Moon by Apollo astronauts in 1971 has a tiny piece of Earth inside of it, according to a study.

This a sharp upturn from the number of asteroids hitting the planet when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

"It is an extraordinary find that helps paint a better picture of early Earth and the bombardment that modified our planet during the dawn of life", Kring said in a statement, cited by Vice.

Start of mission "Apollo-14" was held in 1971.

Researchers made the discovery after a new analysis of the rock revealed that it was composed of suspiciously high levels of granite and quartz, which are extremely rare on the moon but relatively common here on Earth.

Chemical analysis of the fragment showed it crystallized in an environment that could be found on ancient Earth but not on the moon, said the team led by Jeremy Bellucci and Alexander Nemchin at the Swedish Museum of Natural History and Curtin University in Australia.

The team's report, published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, said the rock fragment crystallized about 12 miles below the Earth's surface 4 billion to 4.1 billion years ago. Once the sample reached the lunar surface, it was affected by several other impact events, one of which partially melted it 3.9 billion years ago, and which probably buried it beneath the surface. There was a third man on the moon, where astronaut Edgar Mitchell collected samples of lunar soil.

The team acknowledged that the fragment could have formed deep beneath the moon's surface, but it's much more likely it formed on Earth. He holds a B.A.in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. However, it is the simplest explanation; a lunar birth would require a rethink of the conditions present in the moon's interior long ago, the researchers said.

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Scientists believe that the moon itself was formed around 4.5 billion years ago as a result of a collision between the Earth and another astronomical body approximately the size of Mars.

An artistic rendering of the Hadean Earth when the rock fragment was formed.

"For that reason it provides a neat achieve of impacts, as it is unlike the Earth, which is affected by erosion and plate tectonics that disturb impact craters".

The Apollo missions brought back a whole lot of rock samples, and scientists have been methodically analyzing them ever since. It was then excavated by one or more large impact events and launched into lunar space.

On the lunar surface, the rock mixed with other materials. The researchers believe that more than one asteroid impacts lifted the rock from Earth's interior to the planet's surface.

Speaking of the lunar surface, it seems surprising that the Apollo astronauts were able to find this breccia so easily.

But is it any less of a coincidence that an Earth rock could have ended up on the moon?

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