Scientists stunned to find Earth's oldest rock in strangest of places

Apollo Astronauts May Have Found the Oldest Earth Rock We Know On the Moon

Publishing its findings to Earth and Planetary Science Letters, an global team of scientists associated with the Center for Lunar Science and Exploration revealed that Earth's oldest rock has been discovered in a lunar sample returned to our planet by Apollo 14 astronauts.

Scientists have identified what they believe is the Earth's oldest known rock - but revealed that it came from out of this world.

According to the release, "Previous work by the team showed that impacting asteroids at that time were producing craters thousands of kilometers in diameter on Earth, sufficiently large to bring material from those depths to the surface". That confirmed the scientists' belief that the rock originated from our planet.

According to a statement on the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) website, the ancient relic comprises 0.08 ounces of quartz, feldspar and zircon. These forces also buried it deep below the lunar surface.

The Apollo 14 crew spent more than 33 hours on the lunar surface and brought home almost 43 kg of Moon rocks. The most plausible explanation is that a massive asteroid impact hurled our traveling piece of rock into space, landing on the nearest body, Earth's natural satellite.

Yes, this supposed moon rock is actually an Earth rock.

The University of Southampton's Dr Gernon believes we can learn a lot about Earth from looking at the Moon.

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And it is only now that researchers chose to take a closer look at the "unusual" rock that was brought back the Apollo 14 crew. Finally, Apollo 14 astronauts found the rock and reunited it with mother Earth. The sliver of material, the same width as two human hairs, has been dated to 4.4 billion years old.

An global team of scientists led by NASA's Center for Lunar Science and Exploration (CLSE), found evidence that the impact jettisoned material through Earth's primitive atmosphere, into space, where it collided with the surface of the Moon (which was three times closer to Earth than it is now) about 4 billion years ago. And that would make it one of - if not the - oldest Earth rocks ever found.

"By determining the age of zircon found in the sample, we were able to pinpoint the age of the host rock at about 4 billion years old, making it similar to the oldest rocks on Earth", said professor Alexander Nemchin, author of the paper.

The available evidence suggests that the fragment crystallized 4.1 billion to 4 billion years ago about 12 miles (20 kilometers) beneath Earth's surface, then was launched into space by a powerful impact shortly thereafter.

National Geographic writes that Earth's oldest minerals, up to 4.4 billion years old, are found in Australia's Jack Hills.

Day said his scenario seems more plausible compared to the "required chain of events of [breaking] felsite from the Earth at very high impact pressures so that it can escape Earth's orbit, and then incorporating it in a lunar impact melt rock".

"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".

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