4 Billion Year Old Earth Rock Found On the Moon

4 Billion Year Old Earth Rock Found On the Moon By Apollo 14 Astronauts

In a rather surprising turn of events that is all but guaranteed to ignite specious "arguments" concerning the authenticity of the moon landings, researchers at Curtin University's School of Earth and Planetary scientists have discovered that a small geological sample brought back from the moon by Apollo 14 astronauts is likely to have originated on Earth. 

Their findings, published today in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, are based on careful analysis of the 1.8 gram specimen's mineral composition. According to research author Professor Alexander Nemchin, the tiny rock, which was on loan from NASA, was similar to granite and contained traces of quartz and zircon, both common to Earth. The mineralogy, the article states, "represents pressure, temperature, and oxidation conditions not known for the Moon" and, more excitingly, is "potentially the first evidence of a terrestrial meteorite."

The discovery, then, raises the question of how an Earth rock got to the moon in the first place. According to one widely accepted theory, the moon – and possibly the elemental foundations that make life possible on Earth – was formed when a large planet collided with ours, sending fragments and planet bits soaring into space. 

While Professor Nemchin allowed for the possibility that "unusual conditions could have occurred very locally and very briefly on the moon and the sample is a result of this brief deviation from normality," he seems to have opted for the collision theory, stating that "a simpler explanation is that this piece was formed on the Earth and brought to the surface of the moon as a meteorite generated by an asteroid hitting Earth about four billion years ago, and throwing material into space and to the moon."

Whatever the case may be, we should all welcome the little rock back home.