In 1972, a piece of rock from the Moon was recovered by astronauts on the Apollo 17 mission. Now that same piece of rock is giving researchers all kinds of important new information about the evolution of the moon.
Of course, the chemical composition of the sample had already been examined, but the technology has now reached the point where this composition can be seen in much more detail. While previous studies had not seen much variation in the chemical structures of the minerals present, plagioclase and olivine, scientists in Hawaii have now surprisingly done so.
But what does that say? This tells us something about how these minerals cooled over time and therefore the formation of the moon. To determine exactly how this mineral cooling happened, the researchers simulated up to 5 million possible cooling scenarios using computer models. This allowed them to show that the moon must have cooled much faster than expected: in 20 million years instead of 100 million.
This shows that what we now know about the formation of moons and planets is certainly not always set in stone.
The paper can be found here: Chemical heterogeneities reveal rapid and early cooling of Apollo Troctolite 76535.
“Food expert. Unapologetic bacon maven. Beer enthusiast. Pop cultureaholic. General travel scholar. Total internet buff.”