Scientists have announced that a significant portion of the lunar surface is approximately 200 million years older than previously believed. Researchers studying craters have updated their understanding of how they formed and now assert that they are much older than previously thought.
Norwegian and French scientists have made this discovery after finding a new way to coordinate and calibrate different systems used to determine the age of the lunar surface.
The new findings indicate that a significant portion of the lunar crust is much older than previously believed, allowing scientists to better understand the sequence of events in the evolution of the lunar surface.
The Moon is currently geologically inactive, meaning that the craters formed by meteorite impacts and comet collisions over time remain relatively preserved and uneroded.
Stephanie Werner, a faculty member at the Center for Planetary Habitability at the University of Oslo, who presented the study at the Goldschmidt Geochemistry Conference in Lyon, said:
“By examining the traces of these impacts on the Moon, we can see what Earth would have been like if there had been no geological turmoil due to plate tectonics. Our research has revealed that significant portions of the lunar crust are approximately 200 million years older than previously believed.”
Researchers were aware that the standard method of measuring the age of the lunar surface, known as crater counting, yielded results that differed significantly from the findings obtained from analyzing rocks brought back by the Apollo missions.
To address these discrepancies, they decided to match individually dated Apollo samples with the number of craters in the surrounding region where the sample was collected, thus updating the information about the craters.
To ensure the accurate identification of the surface area counted for craters with the corresponding Apollo samples, researchers also compared the data with information from various lunar missions, particularly the Chandrayaan-1 mission by India.
By successfully resolving the discrepancies, scientists were able to push back the age of the lunar surface by approximately 200 million years.
The researchers emphasize that these findings do not change the estimates of the Moon’s overall age but only alter the predictions regarding its surface.
Prof. Werner stated, “This is a significant difference,” and added, “This difference allows us to push back a period of intense meteor shower from space further in time. We now know that this meteor shower occurred before the extensive volcanic activity that formed the ‘Man on the Moon’ patterns, including Mare Imbrium. Since this event took place on the Moon, it is almost certain that Earth was also subjected to this meteor shower in the past.”
Provided by NTV