4.33-billion-year-old crystal linked to an ancient collision on the Moon

New analysis of Apollo 17 sample reveals clues to the Moon's violent history.

Super Blood Wolf Moon

View of Super Blood Wolf Moon

Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images
  • Researchers make new discovery in an Apollo 17 rock from 1972.
  • The 4.33-billion-year-old sample reveals clues to the Moon's violent history.
  • The Moon was likely bombarded by giant meteorites in its early days.

Our Moon likely had a very violent past, reveals new research. A group of international scientists discovered that the ancient rocks of the Moon were likely formed as a result of impacts from giant meteorites.

The scientists, led by researchers of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), analyzed a rock brought from the Moon by NASA astronauts of the 1972 Apollo 17 mission. The found it was created at the scorching temperatures of over 2300 °C/ 4300 °F. You get this much heat when the outer layer of a planet undergoes a major hit.

Further clues of the rock's origins in meteorite bombardment were revealed by the traces of cubic zirconia, a diamond-substitute that forms at temperatures above 2300 °C. The crystal eventually changed to the more stable mineral baddeleyite around 4.3 billion years ago, but it still betrays its initial structure.

Moon mission 2.0: What humanity will learn by going back

Dr. Lee White, Postdoctoral Fellow at the ROM, explained that the Moon's rocks can be invaluable in figuring out the history of our planet.

"Rocks on Earth are constantly being recycled, but the Moon doesn't exhibit plate tectonics or volcanism, allowing older rocks to be preserved," shared Dr. White. "By studying the Moon, we can better understand the earliest history of our planet. If large, super-heated impacts were creating rocks on the Moon, the same process was probably happening here on Earth".

Apollo 17 commander Eugene A. Cernan stands by the American flag during his second space walk. He was the last man to walk on the Moon on December 12, 1972.

Photo by NASA/Donaldson Collection/Getty Images.

The study's co-author Dr. James Darling from the University of Portsmouth stated that the new analysis of the samples upends the view of the Moon's geology. "These unimaginably violent meteorite impacts helped to build the lunar crust, not only destroy it," he added.

Check out the study in Nature Astronomy.

COVID-19 amplified America’s devastating health gap. Can we bridge it?

The COVID-19 pandemic is making health disparities in the United States crystal clear. It is a clarion call for health care systems to double their efforts in vulnerable communities.

Willie Mae Daniels makes melted cheese sandwiches with her granddaughter, Karyah Davis, 6, after being laid off from her job as a food service cashier at the University of Miami on March 17, 2020.

Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated America's health disparities, widening the divide between the haves and have nots.
  • Studies show disparities in wealth, race, and online access have disproportionately harmed underserved U.S. communities during the pandemic.
  • To begin curing this social aliment, health systems like Northwell Health are establishing relationships of trust in these communities so that the post-COVID world looks different than the pre-COVID one.
Keep reading Show less

A new minimoon is headed towards Earth, and it’s not natural

Astronomers spot an object heading into Earth orbit.

Credit: Tony Dunn
Surprising Science
  • Small objects such as asteroids get trapped for a time in Earth orbit, becoming "minimoons."
  • Minimoons are typically asteroids, but this one is something else.
  • The new minimoon may be part of an old rocket from the 1960s.
  • Keep reading Show less

    Bruce Lee: How to live successfully in a world with no rules

    Shannon Lee shares lessons from her father in her new book, "Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee."

    Bruce Lee: How to live successfully in a world with no rules ...
    Videos
    • Bruce Lee would have turned 80 years old on November 27, 2020. The legendary actor and martial artist's daughter, Shannon Lee, shares some of his wisdom and his philosophy on self help in a new book titled "Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee."
    • In this video, Shannon shares a story of the fight that led to her father beginning a deeper philosophical journey, and how that informed his unique expression of martial arts called Jeet Kune Do.
    • One lesson passed down from Bruce Lee was his use and placement of physical symbols as a way to help "cement for yourself this new way of being, or this new lesson you've learned." By working on ourselves (with the right tools), we can develop the skills necessary to rise and conquer new challenges.
    Keep reading Show less

    3 reasons for information exhaustion – and what to do about it

    How to deal with "epistemic exhaustion."

    Photo by Filip Mishevski on Unsplash
    Mind & Brain
    An endless flow of information is coming at us constantly: It might be an article a friend shared on Facebook with a sensational headline or wrong information about the spread of the coronavirus.
    Keep reading Show less
    Culture & Religion

    Top 5 theories on the enigmatic monolith found in Utah desert

    A strange object found in Utah desert has prompted worldwide speculation about its origins.

    Scroll down to load more…
    Quantcast