An ancient piece of the moon offers new insights

An ancient piece of the moon offers new insights

In 1972, astronauts recovered a chunk of moon from the moon on the Apollo 17 mission. Now that same chunk of rock is giving researchers all kinds of important new information about the moon’s evolution.

Of course, the chemical composition of the sample has already been considered, but the technology has now reached the point where this composition can be seen in more detail. While previous studies did not see much variation within the chemical structures of the existing plagioclase and olivine minerals, scientists in Hawaii have now surprisingly done so.

But what does that say? This tells us something about how these minerals cooled over time and thus how the moon formed. To determine exactly how this cooling of metals occurs, the researchers simulated as many as 5 million possible cooling scenarios using computer models. This allowed them to show that the Moon should cool down much faster than previously thought: in 20 million years instead of 100 million.

It shows that what we now know about the formation of moons and planets is certainly not always consistent.

The paper can be found here: Chemical variations reveal early rapid cooling of Apollo Troctolite 76535.

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Megan Vasquez

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