Scientists find exciting links of Moon’s origin to Earth’s mantle

The Moon has long been a source of fascination for humans. However, it was not until Galileo’s time that scientists began to investigate it seriously.

Over the course of nearly five centuries, scientists proposed numerous, heavily debated theories about how the Moon formed.

Now, a team of geochemists, cosmochemists, and petrologists has shed new light on the Moon’s origin story.

The discovery is an essential piece of the puzzle in understanding how the Moon, possibly the Earth and other celestial bodies, formed.

It adds to the already strong constraints on the famous “Giant Impact” theory, which proposes that the Moon was formed by a massive collision between Earth and another celestial body.

Meteorites from Moon to Antarctica

Patrizia Will examined six samples of lunar meteorites from an Antarctic collection obtained from NASA as part of her doctoral research at ETH Zurich.

The meteorites were made of basalt rock, formed when magma rose from the Moon’s interior and quickly cooled. After their formation, they were covered by additional basalt layers, shielding the stone from cosmic rays, particularly solar wind.

The cooling process resulted in the formation of lunar glass particles amongst the other minerals found in magma, read the research.

Will and his colleagues discovered that the glass particles retain the chemical fingerprints (isotopic signatures) of the lunar gases helium and neon.

Asteroids continue to pelt the Moon’s surface in the absence of an atmosphere. The meteorites were most likely ejected from the middle layers of the lava flow by a high-energy impact, similar to the vast plains known as the Lunar Mare.

The rock fragments eventually made their way to Earth in the form of meteorites. Many of these meteorite samples are found in North African deserts or, in this case, Antarctica’s “cold desert,” where they are easier to spot in the landscape, the research documented.

Leave a Comment