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27 January 2019, 08:27 | Edward Lowe
Researchers believe that the rock fragment may have originated on the Earth
What may be one of the oldest known rocks from Earth has been found in the material that Apollo 14 astronauts brought home from the moon almost 50 years ago.
In 1971, Apollo 14 astronauts brought home various minerals and rock samples from their brief lunar voyage.
NASA's Center for Lunar Science and Exploration (CLSE) have identified this small specimen as terrestrial due to it containing a number of various minerals like quartz and feldspar, which are common on Earth but rare on the Moon. We've even found pieces of Mars falling to the ground here on Earth after they were kicked into space by an impact.
So, how did it end up on the moon? If we assume that it could be on the moon, then given the pressure of crystallization of this would have happened at a depth of 167 kilometers, which is extremely unlikely, not to mention the oxygen level, which had a companion four billion years ago.
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Chemical analyses showed the fragment crystallized in an oxidized environment at temperatures consistent with those near the subsurface of young Earth.
"For that reason it provides a neat achieve of impacts, as it is unlike the Earth, which is affected by erosion and plate tectonics that disturb impact craters".
"Therefore, the simplest interpretation is that the sample came from Earth", USRA said in the release.
It was excavated yet again by another collision 26 million years ago.
The sample was on loan from NASA to Curtin University, where it was investigated in cooperation with researchers from the Swedish Museum of Natural History, Australian National University and Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston.
Principal investigator of the mission, Dr David A Kring, admitted that these findings will prove controversial, as being the first find of its kind means it will be put under more scrutiny in order to locate similar samples.
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