A study in Earth and Planetary Science has questioned the origin of the lunar rock sample collected during NASA's landing in 1971. Surprising research published this week found that the chemical composition of lunar rock is much closer to Earth's rock than to the moon rock. Researchers have found traces of quartz in the lunar rocks – a mineral that is not usually found on the moon. The lunar rock was collected from NASA's Apollo 14 mission, which saw astronauts Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell land on the moon.
Rock was then hired by NASA at the University of Curtin in Western Australia, where it was analyzed by a team of international researchers.
Now the researchers have suggested that the rock has reached the surface of the moon after the asteroid hit our house billions of years ago.
The author of the study, Professor Alexander Nemchin, of the Kurtin School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, said in a statement that the small 1.8-gram sample of the lunar rocks is similar in composition to granite.
The expert said, "The sample also contains quartz, which is an even more unusual discovery of the moon.
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"By determining the age of the zircon found in the sample, we were able to determine the age of the hospitable rock of about four billion years, making it similar to the oldest rocks on Earth.
"In addition, the zircon chemistry in this sample is very different from that of any other circular grain that was once analyzed in lunar samples and remarkably similar to the zircon found on Earth."
Based on the chemical composition of the scale, Professor Nemchin concluded that the zircon is formed at a low temperature.
The rock was probably also formed in the presence of water and oxygen, which further suggests it came from the Earth and not from the Moon.
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He said, "It is possible that some of these unusual conditions have become very local and very short on the Moon, and the sample is the result of this brief deviation from normalcy.
"However, the simplest explanation is that this piece was formed on Earth and brought to the surface of the Moon as an asteroid-generated meteorite that struck Earth about four billion years ago and threw material into space and the Moon.
"Further impacts on the Moon in later times would mix the rocks with lunar rocks, including the future landing site of Apollo 14, where they were collected by astronauts and redeemed to Earth."
The moon's mission of Apollo 14 was a nine-day mission on the Moon that dropped off Earth on January 31, 1971.
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The mission saw commander Allen Shepard, commander pilot Stewart Rose and lunar pilot Edgar Mitchell leaving the Earth in the Saturn V rocket.
NASA's astronauts spent a total of two days on the Moon's surface, collecting samples from lunar rocks and seismic evidence.
As a whole, NASA gathered 45 pounds (100 pounds) of rock from the moon to study again on Earth.
The crew of Apollo 14 returned to Earth on February 9, 1971, and poured into the southern Pacific Ocean for recovery.