The Moon is much older than previously thought. That’s what scientists say in a new study published in the journal Science in October 2023 Geochemical Review Letters.
The 1972 Apollo Commemoration was key to the new discovery
To find out how old you are the moon That is, scientists studied crystals from samples of the moon. In 1972, Apollo 17 astronauts brought a soil sample back to Earth. ‘But only now do we have the techniques to carry out microscopic analyses,’ Dieter Isheim, co-author of the study, said:.
How was the moon formed?
Billions of years ago, an object the size of Mars crashed into Earth. The collision released so much energy that it eventually melted some of the rocks that make up the moon’s surface. An important fact because the crystals that the Apollo astronauts took back to Earth were formed only after the moon was formed.
Once we know how old those crystals are, we know how old the moon must be. To determine the age of the moon’s crystals, the research team zoomed in on the atoms. In particular, the number of atoms undergoing radioactive decay was studied. This radiometric dating allowed the research team to determine how old the crystals were.
That’s how old the moon is
“Radiometric dating works like an hourglass,” says Philip Heck of the Field Museum, senior author of the study. ‘In an hourglass, sand flows from one glass ball to another, indicating that sand has accumulated in the lower ball over time. Radiometric dating works in a similar way. We count the number of parent atoms and the number of daughter atoms they have replaced.’ Scientists know how much time passes during that process, so they can better estimate the age of the samples. So also tell how old the moon is.
They concluded that the Moon is at least 4.46 billion years old. This suddenly makes the moon forty million years older than previously thought.
Willek van Doorn studied journalism and traveled the world for a while, eventually ending up in the editorial offices of Quest, National Geographic, and Runner’s World through the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. She is curious about the world, likes to travel every month and always carries her running shoes with her.
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