Analysis of moon rock samples from NASA’s Apollo lunar landings has dug up something quite surprising about the moon, reports Space.com. Radiocarbon dating of ferroan anorthosites (FANs) from among the rock samples of the lunar crust places their age at 4.36 billion years old. This means the moon may be as many as 200 million years younger than thought.
Moon FANs have been difficult to date
According to a study published in the Aug. 17 issue of the journal Nature, Moon FANs have been difficult to date accurately. Yet new and improved dating methods that analyze lead, samarium and neodymium isotopes within the carefully purified moon rock samples are significantly more precise, said planetary scientist Dr. Lars Borg of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif.
“We can apply this technique to address many questions regarding the timing of ancient events on the moon,” he said.
Redefining what we think we know about the moon
Dr. Richard Carlson of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C., suggests that the FAN study opens up new avenues of thought regarding the moon and its place in our solar system.
“The extraordinarily young age of this lunar sample either means that the moon solidified significantly later than previous estimates, or that we need to change our entire understanding of the moon’s geochemical history,” said Carlson.
The revelation regarding the age of the lunar crust rocks also suggests that the oldest crusts on Earth and the moon formed at roughly the same time. But greater sample sizes are needed to form more detailed conclusions.
“Lunar science is limited by the amount of samples we have,” said Borg.
Opposing theories on the moon
Numerous scientists have viewed Borg’s conclusion regarding lunar age with suspicion. Some believe a small molten rock ocean that may once have existed on the moon could explain the age discrepancy, as during that time a few billion years ago, scientists believe the moon was bombarded by a great deal of interstellar debris. Dr. Clive Neal of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana is among the most notable scientists to subscribe to this opposing theory.
“I remain to be convinced that the moon is as young as suggested by this paper,” said Neal.
The birth of the moon
Carnegie Institution for Science: http://carnegiescience.edu/
International Business Times: http://bit.ly/re3n2S
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: https://www.llnl.gov/
Vancouver Sun: http://bit.ly/pgOXFk
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