Earth's oldest rock found on Moon by Apollo astronauts, says study


Now, 48 years on, experts are claiming that this relic was once part of Earth after it ended up on the moon after large comet or asteroid collided with the planet.

"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.

A sample of basalt brought back by Apollo 14 on 5th February 1971.

Analysis of the rock showed that it contained 2 grams of a fragment that was composed of three very common materials found on Earth: quartz, feldspar, and zircon.

"Our data shows that this fragment formed in a higher pressure, more oxygen-rich, and lower temperature environment than occurs on the Moon".

The evidence gathered by the team shows that this fragment formed 4.1 - 4 billion years ago at nearly 20 km under Earth's surface. The event might have taken place about four billion years ago, researchers said. This same impact created the Cone Crater that astronauts Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell explored and sampled during their moon mission almost half a decade ago. Moreover, it would have to have been formed in the Moon's core and then somehow appear on the surface. He holds a 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. If it had formed on the Moon, that would require conditions never before inferred from lunar samples. A Universities Space Research Association (USRA) press release went so far as to proclaim it "Earth's oldest" rock, but that's not entirely accurate, as Matthew Dodd, a geologist from University College, London, explained. Therefore, the simplest interpretation is that the sample came from Earth.

"That's that these unusual characteristics are the result of impact processes on the Moon, without the need for having these rocks arriving from Earth", he told Gizmodo.

"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". Researchers believe that the rock fragment may have originated on the Earth. A major impact then excavated the rock and blasted it into space, according to a report in Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

Their findings led them to speculate that the piece of ancient rock was jolted from Earth by an asteroid impact, roughly the size of that which is thought to have killed the dinosaurs.

"In addition, the chemistry of the zircon in this sample is very different from that of every other zircon grain ever analysed in lunar samples, and remarkably similar to that of zircons found on Earth".

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

Once that information sinks in, imagine how the trajectory of the rock billions of years ago when asteroids hit our planet.