Scientists discovered a lunar rock almost as ancient as the moon half a century ago


Scientists discovered a lunar rock almost as ancient as the moon half a century ago

The Apollo program achieved a major breakthrough by finding a rock that was almost as old as the moon itself. The scientists examining samples brought back from the lunar surface were determined to find a relic that dated back more than 4.5 billion years. After five visits to the moon, the last mission, Apollo 17, finally succeeded in this endeavor.

Apollo-era lunar rocks continue to provide valuable insights into the moon’s early history. Recent analysis suggests that the moon’s magnetic field, if it existed, lasted for the satellite’s first 500 million years. Samples collected in 2020 by China’s Chang’e-5 mission indicate that the moon was volcanically active for a longer period than previously believed, with lava flowing as recently as 2 billion years ago. China’s upcoming Chang’e-6 mission is expected to bring back rocks from the moon’s farside, shedding light on the geological differences between the near and far sides.

For questions or comments on this article, you can email feedback@sciencenews.org. Physics writer Emily Conover, with a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago, has won the D.C. Science Writers’ Association Newsbrief award twice.

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