Space & Astronomy
The Moon may be 40 million years older than previously thought
By T.K. Randall
October 23, 2023 · 2 comments
The Moon formed shortly after the formation of the solar system. Image Credit: NASA / Joe Tucciarone
A new analysis of samples collected during the Apollo 17 mission has raised new questions about the age of the Moon.
For some time now, the general consensus among scientists has been that the Moon formed somewhere around 4.5 billion years ago (roughly 60 million years after the formation of the solar system), but now a new study has suggested that this date might not be entirely accurate and that the Moon actually formed roughly 40 million years earlier - making it slightly older than previously believed.
This revelation comes courtesy of a new study which saw scientists conduct a renewed analysis of lunar samples collected by the astronauts during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
To determine the Moon's age, the team looked closely at a mineral called zircon which is present within the samples.
This mineral was thought to have formed during the solidification of the Moon's molten surface shortly after the collision that brought about its formation.
By dating the zircon, therefore, it was possible to determine how long ago this formation occurred.
"It's amazing being able to have proof that the rock you're holding is the oldest bit of the moon we've found so far," said study lead author Jennika Greer of the University of Glasgow.
"It's an anchor point for so many questions about the Earth. When you know how old something is, you can better understand what has happened to it in its history."
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