Dating rocks from the moon

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But inside the zircon, the team was able to pull out four different elements: uranium, lead, lutetium, and hafnium.Since uranium - a radioactive element - eventually turns into lead after long periods of time, the researchers could analyse how long the lead had been forming, giving them an accurate date of the Moon’s birth.Thanks to rocks collected during the Apollo 14 mission, researchers say they’ve finally pinpointed the exact age of the Moon, and it turns out, our lunar neighbour is an incredible 4.51 billion years old.

In case you need a refresher, the Moon is thought to have formed from the leftover matter that was sheared off Earth after a collision with Theia - a planet-sized object that existed in the early Solar System - or perhaps a bunch of smaller objects."When the moon-forming event occurs, this melts the entire surface of the Earth," Jacobson tells National Geographic.All the iron present near the surface sinks into the Earth's core, taking iron-loving, siderophile elements along with it.To come up with the new lunar age estimate, the team analysed Moon rocks taken from the lunar surface during the Apollo 14 mission.The reason we've never been able to accurately date the age of the Moon in the past is that there's very few well-preserved Moon rocks left on its surface.

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