According to a new of minerals called zircons which were brought back by the Apollo 14 mission in 1971, the Moon is at least 4.51 billion years old, about 140 million years older than previously thought.
Scientists have tried to settle the question of age of the moon over many years and have been using wide range of scientific techniques.
Melanie Barboni, a research geochemist at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) said, “We have finally pinned down a minimum age for the Moon; it is time we knew its age and now we do”
The Moon was formed by catastrophic collision between early Earth and a Mars-sized object named Theia nearly 100 million years after the formation of primeval Earth.
Ms Barboni said that it has been a difficult task as everything before the giant impact has been erased. While it was unknown what occurred before the collision with Theia, these findings are important because they will help scientists compile the major events that followed it.
Zircons, Lead from decayed Uranium and Hafnium from decayed Lutetium were elements which were analysed by the researchers to determine the Moon’s age.
“Zircons are the best mineral in preserving geological history and revealing where they originated. They are nature’s best clocks.” said Kevin McKeegan, a UCLA professor of geochemistry and cosmo-chemistry.
Liquefied Moon was created by the collision of Earth with Theia, which was afterwards solidified. Most of the Moon’s surface was covered with Magma just after its formation. Uranium-Lead measurements disclose the first appearance of zircons in the magma ocean which after cooling down formed the Moon’s mantle and crust and Lutetium-Hafnium measurements disclose when its magma formed.
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