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'Geological clock' shows moon is 4.51 billion years old

Posted January. 12, 2017 07:03,   

Updated January. 12, 2017 07:20

Researchers have announced that moon is 4.51 billion years old. The recent finding is derived from analysis on rocks shipped by the manned lunar probe “Apollo 14” in 1971.

The moon is aged around 4.51 billion years after chronological estimations of the lunar sample brought by Apollo 14, according to the international weekly science journal "Science" published on Wednesday. The study was led by UCLA researcher Melanie Barboni and her team with joint efforts from the University of Chicago, Princeton University, and the Berkeley Geochronology Center (BGC), the University of California, Berkeley.

As the third manned probe sent by NASA, Apollo 14 collected more than 42 kilograms of lunar rocks moved and loaded by three astronauts with handcarts, and returned to earth.

The researchers estimated 14 different pieces of zircon extracted from these lunar rocks. Zircon contains low quantities of radioactive isotope such as uranium (U-238), and the created date can be estimated by analyzing the “half-life,” a period when radiation level is fallen by half.

The recent analysis shows that all the rock pieces are aged approximately 4.51 billion years; 60 million years after the solar system was created. The latest study shows the moon was created earlier than former predictions, which claimed the moon was created around 10,000 to 20,000 years after the solar system was created, Dr. Barboni said.