Lunar rocks carrying to Earth disrupt the solar system’s timeline

Lunar rocks carrying to Earth disrupt the solar system's timeline

The landing site of the Chinese lunar mission Chang 5 was photographed by the lunar robot itself.Field CNSA

New analysis, which Thursday Appeared in the magazine ScienceThe Chinese lunar program follows the path of the American Apollo missions. In the 1960s and 1970s, astronauts plucked gray rocks from the lunar surface, this time preparing a robotic car to carry them to Earth’s laboratory.

Wim van Westrenen, a lunar expert affiliated with Free University in Amsterdam, says, ‘You can safely say that I’m really looking forward to this analysis. The big question was: how old is the soil there? This may have been one or three to three billion years ago, with a large geographical difference.

Chang-5 landed in a crater called the Oceanus Prosullarm, formed by solid lava from the volcanic eruption. After analyzing two fragments called the basalt layer, researchers were able to find bubbles on the inside of the moon about 2 billion years ago.

The lunar capsule (right) returned to Earth last December.  Image CNSA

The lunar capsule (right) returned to Earth last December.Field CNSA

Solar System Timeline

First, it provides new insights into the solar system’s timeline. Planets, moons, and other celestial bodies face falling space debris. To determine the age of the surface of celestial bodies such as the Moon or our neighboring planet Mars, scientists are looking at the density of impact craters. Concept: More craters, old surface. If you see relatively little, it must be filled with something crater like a volcanic eruption.

However, to attach times to that timeline, benchmarks are required. Points you know: At this crater density, the bottom that appears is exactly old. So far, those points have been provided by the moonstones of the Apollo missions. But: all of those lunar rocks are three to four billion years old. A recent checkpoint on the timeline is missing.

The soil in the crater called Oceanus procellarum now provides that point. However, most models differ in age from what was predicted. Therefore, we now need to reconsider the age limit in other parts of the Solar System, says Van Westren.

In the laboratory of a Geological Research Institute in Beijing, one of the samples of lunar objects found here.  Image CAGS

In the laboratory of a Geological Research Institute in Beijing, one of the samples of lunar objects found here.Field CAGS

Making lava

An open question is how lava flowed on the moon 2 billion years ago. The lava needs heat, and after its formation the moon cools rapidly. Scientists initially thought that radioactive elements deep inside the mantle provide the necessary heat. ‘We saw those elements in the rocks of the Apollo missions, but they don’t seem to be here,’ says Van Westrenen.

At the same time, the analysis immediately provides a possible explanation. For example, the material seems to contain more iron than Apollo stones. “We know that iron-rich rock melts more easily.”

The discovery shows that the moon is not a unified place. Compared to the Apollo missions, the Chinese mission only landed in the northwest, and you can immediately see significant differences.

Van Westren is now anxiously awaiting the analysis of the ratio of different oxygen variants known as rock isotopes. You can compare this to the relationship on earth. In this way we can reconstruct the history of the moon, he says. According to the most common theories, the Moon and Earth are two parts of a primitive planet. Now, the most basic question you can ask about the moon remains: How did it first get there? ‘

Electron micrograph of a slice of basalt from the moon.  Image CAGS

Electron micrograph of a slice of basalt from the moon.Field CAGS

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