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Space & Astronomy

Apollo 14 Moon rock may have come from Earth

By T.K. Randall
January 29, 2019 · Comment icon 20 comments

Found on the Moon, this rock may have actually come from the Earth. Image Credit: NASA
One of the most intriguing samples retrieved by the Apollo 14 astronauts appears to be terrestrial in origin.
A recent geological analysis of a rock discovered by astronauts Alan Shepard and Ed Mitchell during the Apollo 14 Moon landing in 1971 has revealed traits consistent with formation on the Earth.

Known as 'Big Bertha', the sample contains felsite clast with quartz, feldspar and zircon embedded inside it - elements that are all rare on the Moon but common in rocks found on terra firma.

"What we did was use the composition of minerals in the fragment to show it formed under conditions that only occur on Earth," study co-author Katie Robinson told Gizmodo.

"For example, the composition of certain minerals are sensitive to temperature and pressure; they contain more or less of various elements if they crystallize in hot or cool, and/or deep or shallow environments."
"Our data shows that this fragment formed in a higher-pressure, more oxygen-rich, and lower temperature environment than occurs on the Moon."

"Essentially, it had to come from an Earth-like environment."

It is believed that the rock was likely thrown up in to space following a meteor impact at a time when our lunar neighbor was much closer to the Earth than it is today.

If its origins can be conclusively confirmed, it will make this one of the most unique discoveries ever made on the Moon.

Source: Extreme Tech | Comments (20)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #11 Posted by Bunzilla 5 years ago
Guys, the theory that the moon is a chunk that broke off from the earth isn't well accepted any more. There just isn't the evidence to support it, the composition is too different. If you look into it a bit, our moon is actually seriously weird. But honestly, I could go either way on this story, because what are the odds of them picking up a rock from the earth on the moon? Not saying NASA has never been to the moon, but I wouldn't put it past them to do something like this. That said, there's been evidence of several large meteors that have hit the earth in the distant past, so I wouldn't rul... [More]
Comment icon #12 Posted by Gecks 5 years ago
The article also suggests the rock may have been formed on the moon so perhaps the more mundane explanation is that it was. 
Comment icon #13 Posted by InconceivableThoughts 5 years ago
Sorry but being created on the earth is the more mundane explanation
Comment icon #14 Posted by Peter B 5 years ago
Okay, before we go all Apollo Hoax about the implications of the journal article, it might help to actually read the links provided by Still Waters in the OP. In particular, what the scientists tested wasn't a whole rock. Instead, it was a clast within a chunk of breccia. Breccia is a rock made up of pieces of older rocks ("clasts") crushed together to form a new rock. The clast the scientists tested is only a small part of a larger rock (look at the photo in the Nat Geo article and you can see the clast pointed out). So if you think this was some kind of fake mocked up in The Secret NASA Lab... [More]
Comment icon #15 Posted by Peter B 5 years ago
I'd be grateful if you could provide some supporting evidence for this. My understanding of the evidence is that some variety of giant-impact hypothesis is still considered the most likely explanation. There's no picture or video of the astronauts picking the rock up. The Nat Geo article has a picture of the rock sitting on the ground before it was collected, and the astronauts took another photo just before. The ID of the photo in the article is AS14-64-9129. There's a hi-res version of that photo here: or you can get a low-res version by ... [More]
Comment icon #16 Posted by Silver Surfer 5 years ago
Obviously the earth landing is true. So America should just drop a camera down there so we can all watch the flag f.a.p around in all its Glory and put this awful conspiracy theory to rest 
Comment icon #17 Posted by Gecks 5 years ago
Even if they picked it up on the moon?
Comment icon #18 Posted by TripGun 5 years ago
So what do we know about comet impacts and (super) volcanic eruptions resulting in some material reaching escape velocity?
Comment icon #19 Posted by Peter B 5 years ago
A quick Google search suggests there's been quite a bit of experimenting on this subject (not surprising, seeing as the experimenting seems to involve repeatedly shooting objects of different sizes and densities at different speeds and angles into other objects - what's not to enjoy about that?). I couldn't find any specific figures given, but I found one reference which said there was a relationship between the size of the crater and the speed that ejecta was thrown out. And crater size is likely to be related to the energy of impact. We know that meteors can be coming in at speeds of 50,000 ... [More]
Comment icon #20 Posted by InconceivableThoughts 5 years ago
Yep if you would look at the second definition    mun·dane /ˌmənˈdān/ adjective 1. lacking interest or excitement; dull. "seeking a way out of his mundane, humdrum existence" synonyms:humdrum, dull, boring, tedious, monotonous, tiresome, wearisome, prosaic, unexciting, uninteresting, uneventful, unvarying, unvaried, unremarkable, repetitive, repetitious, routine, ordinary, everyday, day-to-day, quotidian, run-of-the-mill, commonplace, common, workaday, usual, pedestrian, customary, regular, normal; More 2. of this earthly world rather than a heavenly or spi... [More]

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