Earth’s Oldest Known Rock Has Been Found, And It Was on The Moon

It formed on Earth, but ended up on the moon, where it was recovered by Apollo 14 Astronauts.

Scientists may just have identified what is believed the oldest known rock of our planet.

Interestingly, it wasn’t found on Earth, but on the Moon’s surface, where no one ever thought to look for it.

It was ‘recovered’ from the moon by Apollo 14 astronauts in 1971.

The existence of the rock doesn’t essentially prove the theory that the Moon was once a part of the Earth.

As noted by an international group of scientists, ample evidence suggests the rock is terrestrial in nature.

The rock is a 2-gram piece of quartz, feldspar, and zircon embedded in a larger chunk of rock called Big Bertha.

Big Bertha. (LPI).
Big Bertha. (LPI).

Those minerals are actually scarce on the moon but are really common on Earth.

Scientists analyzed the rock and revealed that it was most likely formed in an oxidized system like Earth’s, where Earth-like temperatures existed, and not in conditions that exist on the moon.

In fact, scientists have revealed that if the rock had been formed on the moon, to explain it would mean we would require conditions that have never before been spotted in lunar samples.

So the mystery (if there is one) is how did it get to the moon’s surface?

Scientists say the answer is simple.

It was ‘catapulted’ from Earth’s surface in the distant past, some 4 Billion years ago, when an asteroid or comet impacted a young, roughly 540-million-year old Earth, causing fragments from it to launch into space.

According to scientists, the rock crystallized about 20 kilometers beneath Earth’s surface 4.0-4.1 billion years ago.

The Moon was much closer to the Earth than it is today when the rock fragment was produced and ejected from the Earth to the Moon in a large impact event. Illustration credit: LPI/David A. Kring.
The Moon was much closer to the Earth than it is today when the rock fragment was produced and ejected from the Earth to the Moon in a large impact event. Illustration credit: LPI/David A. Kring.

In the distant past, billions of years ago, the moon orbited Earth at a much closer distance than today. In fact, scientists estimate that the moon was as much as three times closer to Earth than it is today.

This means that it’s not that hard to believe that an asteroid impact caused fragments of Earth to end up on the moon’s surface.

Dr. David Kring, Center for Lunar Science and Exploration (CLSE) Principal Investigator said in a statement: “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.”

The rock’s history is truly fascinating.

Detailed analysis of the rock revealed the existence of zircon, and since zircon contains uranium, it helped scientists date the rock accurately.

It is believed to be around 4.1 billion years old. According to scientists, the rock crystallized about 20 kilometers beneath Earth’s surface 4.0-4.1 billion years ago.

After an asteroid or comet impacted the Earth, it was hurtled into space. It ended up on the moon, where more impacts buried and melted it around 3.9 billion years ago.

The impact event that produced the Cone Crater, some 26 million years ago, brought it back to the moon’s surface, where it remained until Apollo 14 astronaut picked it up and brought it back home.

Source
Universities Space Research Association
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