A lunar sample returned from the Moon by the Apollo 14 astronauts is making quite the buzz as it turns out to be the oldest rock from Earth.
International researchers from NASA’s Center for Lunar Science and Exploration (CLSE) found evidence that the rock was launched through Earth’s primitive atmosphere by a large impacting asteroid or comet, and then it collided with the Moon’s surface nearly 4 billion years ago.
“The sample is, therefore, a relic of an intense period of bombardment that shaped the Solar System during the first billion years,” the Universities Space Research Association explained.
Chemical analysis of the rock fragment shows that it crystallized in a terrestrial-like oxidized system, at terrestrial temperatures, rather than in the reducing and higher temperature conditions which are characteristic of the Moon.
“It is an extraordinary find that helps paint a better picture of early Earth and the bombardment that modified our planet during the dawn of life,” said Center for Lunar Science and Exploration Principle Investigator David A. Kring.
It’s unknown what will happen with the Earth’s oldest rock, but we know it won’t be sold at a public auction. Last year, Sotheby’s auction house in New York City sold three Moon rocks for an unbelievable $855,000.