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|Image credit: Eerie stuff. (NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)|
A UCLA-led research team reports that the moon is at least 4.51 billion years old, or 40 million to 140 million years older than scientists previously thought.
“We have finally pinned down a minimum age for the moon; it’s time we knew its age and now we do,” said Mélanie Barboni, the study’s lead author and a research geochemist in UCLA’s Department of Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences.
“Zircons are nature’s best clocks,” said Kevin McKeegan, a UCLA professor of geochemistry and cosmochemistry, and a co-author of the study. “They are the best mineral in preserving geological history and revealing where they originated.”
“Mélanie was very clever in figuring out the moon’s real age dates back to its pre-history before it solidified, not to its solidification,” said Edward Young, a UCLA professor of geochemistry and cosmochemistry and a co-author of the study.
Previous studies concluded the moon’s age based on moon rocks that had been contaminated by multiple collisions. McKeegan said those rocks indicated the date of some other events, “but not the age of the moon.”