Crystals from the Lunar Surface Demonstrate that the Moon is 40 Million Years Older than Previously Assumed

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Crystals from the Lunar Surface Demonstrate that the Moon is 40 Million Years Older than Previously Assumed
Crystals from the Lunar Surface Demonstrate that the Moon is 40 Million Years Older than Previously Assumed

Crystals from the Lunar Surface Demonstrate that the Moon is 40 Million Years Older than Previously Assumed

Crystals were employed in a study published in the journal ‘Geochemical Perspectives Letters’ to enable researchers identify the time of the Moon’s origin. Their discovery puts the Moon’s age back by 40 million years, to at least 4.46 billion years.

Crystals recovered from the lunar surface by Apollo astronauts in 1972 proved that the Moon is 40 million years older than scientists previously thought.

Crystals were employed in a study published in the journal ‘Geochemical Perspectives Letters’ to enable researchers identify the time of the Moon’s origin. Their discovery puts the Moon’s age back by 40 million years, to at least 4.46 billion years.

“These crystals are the oldest known solids to have formed following the massive impact.” And because we know how old these crystals are, they serve as an anchor for the lunar chronology,” said Philipp Heck, a professor at the University of Chicago and the Robert A. Pritzker Curator for Meteoritics and Polar Studies at the Field Museum in the United States.

The lunar dust sample used in the study was returned by Apollo 17 astronauts during the last crewed trip to the Moon in 1972.

Tiny crystals created billions of years ago in this dust. These crystals are a dead giveaway as to when the Moon formed.

“Our coauthors, Bidong Zhang and Audrey Bouvier, approached us because they needed a nanoscale look at these samples to fully understand them,” said Jennika Greer, the study’s lead author and currently a research associate at the University of Glasgow.

The energy of the impact melted the rock that later became the Moon’s surface when the Mars-sized object collided with the Earth and produced the Moon.

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Because the crystals had to develop after the lava ocean cooled, measuring the age of the zircon crystals would indicate the Moon’s minimum probable age.

This age was suggested by a previous study by co-author Zhang, but the most recent work is the first to utilize an analytical approach called atom probe tomography, which “nailed down” the age of this oldest known lunar crystal.

This atom-by-atom examination, carried out at Northwestern University, revealed how many atoms within the zircon crystals had undergone radioactive decay.

The proportion of lead isotopes discovered by the researchers showed that the sample was 4.46 billion years old. As a result, the Moon must be at least that ancient.

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“It’s incredible to have proof that the rock you’re holding is the oldest piece of the Moon we’ve discovered so far.” It serves as a focal point for so many Earth-related topics. “Knowing how old something is helps you understand what has happened to it throughout its history,” Greer said.

“It’s critical to know when the Moon formed,” Heck noted, “because the Moon is an important partner in our planetary system.” It stabilizes the Earth’s rotational axis, which is why there are 24 hours in a day and why we have tides.”

“Life on Earth would be different if the Moon did not exist.” It’s an element of our natural system that we want to better understand, and our research contributes a small piece of the puzzle,” the authors wrote.

 


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402 thoughts on “Crystals from the Lunar Surface Demonstrate that the Moon is 40 Million Years Older than Previously Assumed”

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