Research carried out in Canada shows that the lunar rocks were formed from meteorites impacts on the satellite.
New research led by scientists at the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada points out that the formation of ancient rocks on the Moon may be linked to large-scale impacts caused by meteorites.
Scientists analyzed a rock collected by NASA during the Apollo 17 mission on the Moon, in 1972. They found evidence that it formed at temperatures above 2300°C, which can only be reached by melting the outer layer of a planet in a major impact event.
In the rock, the researchers also noticed the presence of cubic zirconia, a mineral that only forms in rocks heated above 2300°C. According to the scientists, the material appears to have formed before 4.3 billion years ago, suggesting that large impacts were important for the formation of these rocks on the Moon.
When the first samples were brought to Earth, scientists raised hypotheses about how the rocks formed. Even today, a key question remains unanswered: how did the outer and inner layers mix after the Moon formed? The new research suggests that meteorite impacts may have driven this mixture, producing the complex range of rocks seen today on the lunar surface.
“By studying the Moon, we can better understand the earliest history of our planet. If large, super-heated impacts were creating rocks on the Moon, the same process was probably happening here on Earth,” explains Lee White, one of the authors of the research, in a note.
James Darling, the co-author of the study, says the findings completely change scientists’ understanding of samples collected during Apollo missions. “These unimaginably violent meteorite impacts helped to build the lunar crust, not only destroy it”, he points out.