News / Science & Technology

Apollo Moon Rocks Suggest Other Planet Hit Young Earth

FILE: Scientists are studying the composition of lunar rocks, such as these brought back by Apollo 11 astronauts.
FILE: Scientists are studying the composition of lunar rocks, such as these brought back by Apollo 11 astronauts.
Reuters
Lunar rocks brought back by the Apollo astronauts more than 40 years ago contain evidence of a Mars-sized planet that scientists believe crashed into Earth and created the moon, new research shows.
 
German scientists using a new technique said they detected a slight chemical difference between Earth rocks and moon rocks. Scientists said more study would be needed to confirm this long-elusive piece of evidence that material from another body besides Earth contributed to the moon's formation some 4.5 billion years ago.

Scientists believe the moon formed from a cloud of debris launched into space after  a Mars-sized body called Theia crashed into the young Earth.
 
Different planets in the solar system have slightly different chemical makeups. Therefore, scientists believed moon rocks might hold telltale chemical fingerprints of whatever body smashed into Earth.
 
Until now, evidence was elusive.
 
"We have developed a technique that guarantees perfect separation" of oxygen isotopes from other trace gases, Daniel Herwartz, with the University of Cologne in Germany, wrote in an email to Reuters.
 
"The differences are small and difficult to detect, but they are there," added Herwartz, lead author of a paper on the discovery published in this week's issue of the journal Science.

A mixed history
 
The results indicate that composition of the moon is about 50 percent Thea and 50 percent Earth, the scientists said. More work is needed to confirm that estimate.
 
The team analyzed rocks brought back to Earth by NASA astronauts during the Apollo 11, Apollo 12 and Apollo 16 moon missions in 1969 and 1972.
 
"This work is the first to claim to see such a difference in the isotopes of oxygen," said Robin Canup, a planetary scientist with the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. She was not involved in the research.
 
"The reported difference between the Earth and moon is extremely small -- small enough that I think there will be debate as to whether the difference is real or an artifact of how one interprets the data," Canup added.
 
Other teams of scientists have been looking at titanium, silicon, chromium, tungsten and other chemical elements, but so far the lunar samples show no detectable differences from Earth samples.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid