An ancient rock of the earth – found in the moon | Daily Planet



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Jeremy Bellucci of the Swedish Museum of Natural History and his colleagues discovered something extraordinary on a rock collected from the surface of the moon by Apollo astronauts almost half a century ago.

In the latest issue of Earth and Planetary Science Letters, scientists report their study of a clast of the Apollo 14321 sample collected during the Apollo 14 mission in 1971. After a thorough geochemical analysis, they determined that this piece of rock probably originated on Earth, where it was excavated by a meteorite impact about 4 billion years ago, then ejected into space to eventually land on the Moon. If so, it would be Earth's first meteorite recovered in another planetary body as well as one of the oldest land rocks found so far.

The authors conclude that this event occurred during the late bombardment period, during which, according to many scientists, an unusually high number of large asteroid impacts occurred on Earth. They acknowledge that the 14321 fragment could also have originated on the Moon. But no other lunar rock was found, formed at such low temperatures and with high oxygen content. If the clast really formed on the Moon, it would mean that the Moon, or at least one place on the Moon, was once again Earthlike and rich in water than previously thought.

Both possibilities support the hypothesis advanced by Ian Crawford and myself that there may have been a window of initial habitability on the Moon, and perhaps even a temporary microbial life. If sample 14321 is really Earth's, this proves that the exchange of lunar and terrestrial material is not only theoretically possible, but actually occurred – probably many times and involving a lot of material – at a time when the Moon was three times closer to Earth than it is now. It would also have happened after life originated on Earth, meaning that the Moon may contain clues that would help us respond to the greatest mystery of astrobiology: when and where did life begin on our own planet?

If, on the other hand, the clast actually formed on the Moon (which seems unlikely, given the results of Bellucci et al.), This would improve the chances of habitable conditions at the beginning of the Moon. on the lunar surface, potentially with microbes growing and reproducing there, would become a real possibility.

One thing is clear, anyway. We do not know the Moon as well as we might have thought. There are still many issues to be resolved, some of which could have major impacts (puns) on our understanding of life in the universe. It's time to get back to the moon and retrieve more samples.

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