Moon rock recovered by astronauts likely originated on Earth

Moon rock recovered by astronauts likely originated on Earth
A lunar rock sample collected on the Apollo 14 mission. Credit: NASA

In findings published overnight in science journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, a sample collected during the 1971 Apollo 14 lunar mission was found to contain traces of minerals with a chemical composition common to Earth and very unusual for the moon.

The was on loan from NASA to Curtin University, where it was investigated in cooperation with researchers from the Swedish Museum of Natural History, Australian National University and Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston.

Research author Professor Alexander Nemchin, from Curtin's School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, said the 1.8 gram sample showed mineralogy similar to that of a granite, which is extremely rare on the moon but common on Earth.

"The sample also contains quartz, which is an even more unusual find on the moon," Professor Nemchin said.

"By determining the age of found in the sample, we were able to pinpoint the age of the host rock at about four billion years old, making it similar to the oldest rocks on Earth.

"In addition, the chemistry of the zircon in this sample is very different from that of every other zircon grain ever analysed in lunar samples, and remarkably similar to that of zircons found on Earth."

Professor Nemchin said the chemistry of the zircon lunar sample indicated that it formed at low temperature and probably in the presence of water and at oxidised conditions, making it characteristic of Earth and highly irregular for the moon.

"It is possible that some of these unusual conditions could have occurred very locally and very briefly on the moon and the sample is a result of this brief deviation from normality," Professor Nemchin said.

"However, a simpler explanation is that this piece was formed on the Earth and brought to the surface of the moon as a meteorite generated by an asteroid hitting Earth about four billion years ago, and throwing material into space and to the moon.

"Further impacts on the at later times would have mixed the Earth rocks with lunar rocks, including at the future Apollo 14 landing site, where it was collected by astronauts and brought back home to the Earth."


Explore further

Moon rocks reveal surprising meteorite history

More information: J.J. Bellucci et al. Terrestrial-like zircon in a clast from an Apollo 14 breccia, Earth and Planetary Science Letters (2019). DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2019.01.010
Provided by Curtin University
Citation: Moon rock recovered by astronauts likely originated on Earth (2019, January 25) retrieved 23 September 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-01-moon-recovered-astronauts-earth.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
2054 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Jan 25, 2019
Did Nixon fake the Moon landing?

Jan 25, 2019
Oh whoa! Is that where I left it?

Man, that was a gnarly LSD trip in '62 aboard that mandala flying saucer.

Me & the boobsey twins were just joking around. Don't remember who suggested leaving those Earth rocks behind.

Well, it was hilarious at the time!
But then again, that was always my reaction dropping acid.

Since a number of meteors found on the Earth, are believed to be knock-offs of Mars.

Earth splatter onto the Moon is not an unreasonable conjecture.

Have any of the Moon rocks collected tested as of Mars origin?

Jan 25, 2019
So how likely exactly is it for a rock to have been blasted to escape velocity, so that it could get to the moon ? I suppose a big impact would have a small fraction of debris with tremendous energy. 4 billion years ago there were more big impact I guess.

Jan 25, 2019
Long run for a short slide.

Jan 25, 2019
Wait... Didn't the entire moon originate from the earth? Why wouldn't they find bits of quartz, granite, and other such rocks? Why presume that such rocks had to have come later?

Jan 26, 2019
Did Nixon fake the Moon landing?


Why would they fake it SIX TIMES?

Morons.

Jan 26, 2019
ab3a, depends on which of the hypothesized models of Luna origin, you would prefer to believe.

I like the mosh pit origins speculations of Thera crashing into the early protoEarth,

Cause hey! Spectacular!

Jan 26, 2019
This will support the scientists who look through Moon meteorites of material ejected to Earth for minute grains that can have traveled through impacts from Earth to Moon in the first place.

@unrealone1: You propose an unlikely conspiracy. And the discussed find contradicts it!

@syncop8: Assuming a hypervelocity (faster than sound in rock; also faster than escape speed) impactor from the asteroid belt, it would itself melt but its shock waves spallate away crust. Of that a few percent are ejected at higher than escape speed at angles coincident with the rarefied air column of the entering impactor.

Moon was much closer to Earth at the time, and some of the accumulated ejecta - as you say, it happened ferquently enough - had a fair chance striking it or getting caught in its gravity field. There is a maximum 200 Myrs gap between the rock formation on Earth and its burial in the Imbrium impact, so it did not even need to travel directly but could have been swept up later.

Jan 26, 2019
@ab3a: Right, but looking for such grains was just the initial filter for a tedious search. It was the isotope chemistry that clinched it, see the paper on how it cannot be Moon material.

Jan 26, 2019
Did Nixon fake the Moon landing?


No but he certainly bollixed the US space program by giving them Shuttle.

Jan 26, 2019
These Moonchines could have grown their Moon sprouts in the lunar regolith after all

Jan 27, 2019
There are two other plausible explanations outside of faked moon landing. 1. The NASA actual sample was stolen or removed and replaced with a similar looking earth rock. Bearing in mind how valuable the moon rock is, its quite reasonable. 2. I support the theory that the moon was once part of earth that was separated in a massive plant level collision.

Jan 29, 2019
No, NASA didn't fake the moon landings. But, they wanted the biggest PR bang for their buck because, up until Apollo, the Soviets were kicking their butts in every "first" in space.

So, they went to Hollywood and got Kubrick, fresh from making 2001, to "direct" some of the photos, to make them look really spectacular. Problem is technology changes, times change, people become more savvy to the telltales of photoshopping. . .

So, then they did what comes naturally--created two narratives, a false mainstream narrative that the photos were all legitimately from real moon landings, and an even falser conspiracy narrative that the whole series of missions was faked.

Now, you either go down the rabbit hole of faked moon missions and are lost in the mirrors, or you believe that everything is legitimate and on the up and up .

Kubrick put his confession to photoshopping the moon landings in his move "The Shining" if you're interested in connecting the dots.

Jan 29, 2019
Oh jax my boy you are deliberately leaving out the contributions of Joseph Haydn Carlo Goldoni, Nicholas Maw, Beverley Cross, Lajos Bíró,
Robert E. Sherwood, Jules Verne & Jack London.
Who are the Futurist Arts Directorate for the Uranus Conspiracy.
Who have for centuries, been manipulating all telescopic images of the Moon.

jax I don't know whether or not, you are am agent-provocateur fpr the theosophists or the illuminati?
Or the Mars Supials or the Venerian Dionaea?

But we're keeping an eye on you!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more