• September 24, 2022

Scientists Argue the Orgin of the Moon, Presents New Evidence

origin of the Moon

The first direct evidence of the origin of the Moon borrowing from indigenous helium and neon from Earth’s mantle has been evidenced. The findings, published in Science Advances, put even more stringent limits on the popular “Giant Impact” idea, which proposes that the Moon was formed by a huge impact between Earth and another celestial body.

The ETH Zurich team studied six lunar meteorite samples from NASA’s Antarctic collection. Basalt rock, which formed when magma erupted from the interior of the Moon and cooled rapidly, makes up the meteorites.

After their development, they were and are still shielded from cosmic rays and, particularly, the solar wind by the subsequent basalt layers that formed over them. Lunar glass formed along with other minerals in the magma during the cooling process.

The researchers found that the isotopic traces (chemical fingerprints) of the solar gases helium and neon from the Moon’s interior are preserved in the glass particles. Their results provide compelling evidence that the Moon received noble gases that are naturally occurring on Earth.

Scientist Patrizia Will from ETH Zurich said how fascinating it was to find solar gases in lunar basaltic minerals that had no connection to exposure on the lunar surface for the first time.

Asteroids are constantly pounding the lunar surface for lack of an atmosphere. The meteorites were presumably ejected from the middle strata of the lava flow with the help of a high-energy impact, just as a similar process created the Lunar Mare’s broad plains.

The shards of rock were eventually brought to Earth as meteorites. The deserts of North Africa and, in this case, the “cold desert” of Antarctica provide ideal conditions for collecting meteorite samples. It is a huge step forward that scientists know exactly where to look among NASA’s 70,000 authorized meteorites.

Professor Henner Busemann from ETH Zurich is confident that there will be a competition to discover and analyze rare isotopes and heavy noble gases in meteorites. The search for more elusive noble gases like xenon and krypton, he says, will begin shortly. The lunar meteorites will also be analyzed for the presence of other flammable components, including hydrogen and halogens.

He noted that while such gases are not vital for life, it would be intriguing to know how some of these noble gases survived the terrible and violent origin of the Moon. With this information, geochemists and planetary physicists may be able to develop more accurate models of how many of the most reactive elements may survive planet formation in our solar system and beyond.

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