Volcanic rocks that were brought from the Moon are about two billion years old. They are also a billion years younger than samples collected from the previous mission. This new discovery shows that the Moon was volcanically active much more recently than previously thought.
Images taken in recent years have already shown that the Moon contains much younger rocks than those previously brought back to Earth for direct study. For the first time, research published today in Science proves that this is true.
The Chinese National Space Agency collected the rock samples during its Chang’e-5 mission in December 2020, it was the first time anyone had collected rocks from the Moon since 1976.
Curtin University researchers helped in proving the age of lunar rock samples by working together with colleagues in China. There were amazing results, despite the fact that they had been expected for a long time.
The small pieces taken by the Apollo and Luna missions in the 1960s and 1970s, and also lunar meteorites, were the youngest Moon rocks studied on Earth. Which were three billion years old, which shows that the Moon hasn’t been volcanically active since then.
However, based on how the radioactive elements are decaying in these samples. Scientists found that the age of the new Moon rocks are around two billion years old. This not only shows that rocks this old exist on the Moon, but it also proves that the techniques are effective. It is good for scientists studying other planets, particularly Mars.
As China is already planning for another Moon mission as part of its Chang’e-6 mission in 2024, this research puts Australia to collaborate internationally to work on the samples.Because the Moon has younger volcanic rocks than previous assumptions, that means it had experienced a recent internal heating that boosted the volcanic activity.
The main issue is to discover the cause behind this. Normally, volcanic rocks on different rocky planets and moons are mostly the same. However, there are some major differences that put them in different categories.Because there is less water on the Moon than on Earth and lunar basalts are mostly formed in hotter conditions.
The presence of water can make a difference in the temperature at which the rocks melt or become solid. The hotter conditions on the Moon can cause softer but major differences in the chemical composition of the rocks. Earth’s rocks are also the same in this aspect.
Many Moon rocks have extremely high titanium levels, which are never seen on Earth, whereas the rocks collected by Chang’e-5 have normal titanium levels.The main concentration will be to research more fragments which would help to know the difference in chemical composition.
This will mostly help scientists to know more about the specific conditions which helped in the formation of these rocks, which started as volcanic magmas.
Scientists still have no knowledge about the heat source that melted the interior of the moon, which also formed a lake of magma with the volcanic eruptions. Finally, there will be enough to know the age of the entire Solar System, and learning more about cosmic mysteries.