pace news: NASA reveals planetary pair collided to form Moon – ‘Giant Impact’ theory’ | Science | News


A landmark new NASA study has potentially answered an age-old question – what made the Moon? The groundbreaking study examined lunar rock, which added to evidence to the increasingly-mainstream theory hypothesising the Moon was created after planets smashed into a nascent, molten Earth eons ago.

Dr Justin Simon, a NASA planetary scientist, said in a statement: “There is a huge difference between the modern elemental makeup of the Earth and Moon and we wanted to know why.

“Now, we know that the Moon was very different from the start, and it is probably because of the ‘Giant Impact’ theory.”

Space scientists have long-argued about exactly how the Moon was created.

But the Giant Impact theory, suggests early Earth was hit by another emerging planet called Theia.

The collision caused both planets to briefly shatter into globs of gas, magma, and chemical elements before reforming into the Earth and Moon we know today.

The study by the researchers lends more weight to confirms the theory.

The research team uncovered evidence supporting the collision theory after an attempt to understand the chemical discrepancies between Earth and Moon rock.

The lunar samples originated from rocks originally obtained by NASA’s iconic Apollo missions and saved for future research.

The researchers decided to examine chlorine because it is highly volatile, meaning it vaporises at low temperatures and tracking it is helpful for understanding planetary formation.

Chlorine exists in two abundant and stable forms, known as “light” and “heavy”.

These are used to describe chemicals which have variations in their atomic structure, also called isotopes.

What they found is the Moons rocks contain a higher concentration of heavy chlorine, whereas Earth rocks are richer in light chlorine.

Heavy chlorine his known to be more inert than its light cousin, which is much more reactive and responsive to forces.

NASA’s Giant Impact model claims both the Earth and Moon blobs initially contained a mix of heavy and light chlorines.

But as the planets converged, our planet dominated the process and pulled the lighter, easily vaporised chlorine inward.

This left the Moon depleted of light chlorine and other more easily evaporated elements.

But new measurements taken by NASA suggest this is exactly what happened.

In order to verify their findings, NASA analysed the rock samples for differences in other elements part of the same family of chemicals called halogens, close relatives of chlorine.

They saw this family of more easily-evaporated elements vanished from the Moon.

However, they didn’t see a pattern of differences among the halogen chemicals which may be caused by something occurring at a later time between the Moon and our planet.

This means the Moon’s lighter chlorine composition and relative halogen abundances must have been set at the very beginning.

Dr Gargano said: “The chlorine loss from the Moon likely happened during a high-energy and heat event, which points to the Giant Impact theory.”





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