Executive Intelligence Review


Studying the Moon Reveals Earth’s Past

Jan. 26, 2019 (EIRNS)—Two recent discoveries about the Earth have been made from studying the Moon.

One discovery is based on the analysis of a rock brought back by Apollo 14 astronauts in February 1971. The scientific team has determined that the rock harbors a tiny piece of the ancient Earth. Scientists presume it was blasted off the Earth when our planet was hit by a powerful impact about 4 billion years ago.

The scientists conducted chemical analyses of the rock fragment and found that it contained minerals that are rare on the Moon, such as quartz and feldspar, but common on the early Earth. The scientists said that the ancient Earth origin for the fragment will be controversial, but it is the simplest explanation for their findings.

“It is an extraordinary find that helps paint a picture of early Earth and the bombardment that modified our planet during the dawn of life,” said David King, scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, and co-author of the paper on the research.

Another team of scientists, at the Southwest Research Institute, studying images and thermal data collected by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) over the past 10 years, are determining the age of lunar craters and comparing that with craters on the Earth. Crater counts have typically been used to estimate the age of regions of the Moon, since scientists have determined general periods of heavy or light bombardments by asteroids and other small bodies. This team determined that the Earth has fewer older craters than expected, but not because the craters have eroded over time, which has been the accepted theory until now, but because the impact rate was lower than had been assumed by scientists, prior to 290 million years ago.

“The Moon is like a time capsule, helping us understand the Earth,” said William Bottke, an asteroid expert who co-authored the paper in Science on the research. “We found that the Moon shared a similar bombardment history, which meant the answer to Earth’s impact rate was staring everyone right in the face,” he said. The analysis technique they developed in this project will help study the surface of other planets.