Latest Update

Scientists Are One Step Closer to Discovering the Origin of the Moon


Published on: September 7, 2022,

The moon casting pale light on Earth has been a subject of both wonder and enigma. It was not until Galileo’s time researchers started to study it seriously. There are numerous theories how the moon was formed. Geo chemists, cosmochemists, and petrologists from ETH Zurich have now shed new light on the Moon’s origin story. As per the researchers Moon acquired indigenous noble gases and neon from the Earth’s mantle. The finding strengthens the widely accepted ” Giant Impact” theory which theorizes that Earth and another celestial body collided violently to form the moon.


Patrizia Will examined six samples of lunar meteorites from an Antarctic collection that NASA provided for her doctoral work at ETH Zurich. The meteorites were made of basalt rock which was created when magma welled up from Moon’s interior and then quickly cooled. The cooling process resulted in the creation of lunar particles among st other minerals found in magma.
Without the protection of an atmosphere asteroids constantly pelted the Moon’s surface. It likely took a high energy impact to eject the meteorites from the middle layers of the lava flow similar to the vast plains known as Lunar Mare. The rock fragments made their way to Earth to form of meteorites. The meteorites samples were picked up in the deserts of North America where they are easier to spot in the landscape.


Tom Dooley is so sensitive that it is, in fact, the only instrument on Earth capable of detecting such minimal concentrations of helium and neon. Using the Tom Dooley instrument, the research team was able to measure sub millimeter glass particles from the meteorites and rule out solar wind as the source detected gases. The helium and neon they detected were in much higher abundance than expected.


“I am strongly convinced that there will be a race to study heavy noble gases and isotopes in meteorite materials,” states ETH Zurich Professor Henner Busemann, one of the world’s leading scientists in the field of extra-terrestrial noble gas geochemistry. He anticipates that soon researchers will be looking for noble gases such as xenon and krypton which are more challenging to identify. Busemann comments,” While such gases are not necessary for life. It would be interesting to know how some of these gases survive the brutal and violent formation of the moon. With this knowledge geophysics can create new models that show generally how such volatile elements can survive planet formation is solar system and beyond.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *