Apollo 14 Astronauts Found The Earth’s Oldest Rock On The Moon

Big Bertha

It was among 95 pounds of moon rocks collected by Apollo 14 astronauts in February 1971.

An analysis of the rock revealed that it formed at temperatures associated with Earth and in an Earth-like setting combined with oxygen.

One of Earth's oldest rocks may have been dug up on the moon.

Nope. According to an global team of scientists, there's evidence the rock was terrestrial in origin - it's a 2-gram piece of quartz, feldspar, and zircon embedded in a larger chunk of rock called Big Bertha - minerals that are rare on the Moon, but really common here on Earth. So, it is possible that in the early years of our Solar System when large asteroids were everywhere, that one of them hit the Earth and sent debris flying into space, and one of these rocks landed on our satellite's surface. Moreover, the crystallized fragment, and this at most could only happen on Earth. Therefore, the simplest interpretation is that the sample came from Earth.

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Curtin University research into lunar rock samples retrieved by astronauts nearly 50 years ago has found one of the samples may be originally from Earth, thrown into space when an asteroid struck our planet billions of years ago.

About 26 million years ago, the team says, another asteroid impact created the Cone Crater and knocked the rock back up to the moon's surface.

Yes, this supposed moon rock is actually an Earth rock. It was found on the moon.

The evidence suggests the rock crystallized below Earth's surface between 4 billion and 4.1 billion years ago, during the Hadean Eon, when the fledgling Earth was regularly struck by large objects. Scientists have discovered the rock decades ago by the Apollo 14 crew. At an estimated four billion to 4.1 billion years old, the terrestrial zircon mineral found in the sample is now among the oldest known to exist. The Earth itself is around 4.5 billion years old, and the oldest rocks we've ever found are a little over half that age.

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"It is an extraordinary find that helps paint a better picture of early Earth and the bombardment that modified our planet during the dawn of life", he said.

The team developed techniques for locating impactor fragments in the lunar regolith, which prompted CLSE Principal Investigator David A Kring to challenge them to locate a piece of Earth on the Moon.

Previously, the oldest known fragment of Earth rock was a zircon crystal from Western Australia.

When Apollo 14 astronauts retrieved the samples of lunar soil and rocks, they believed that this particular rock could contain lots of information about the Moon formation and composition. Pictured: This 19 November 1969 file photo released by NASA shows one of the astronauts of the Apollo 12 space mission conducting experiment on the moon's surface.

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The theory that the moon was once a part of Earth and was cast off by a massive cosmic collision is not new, but recent findings show that, strangely, a piece of Earth may have managed to find its way to the moon after this event.

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