Studying Earth's Moon

Thanks to the brave men and women who have traveled into space, we're now finding out more about earth's moon.

Scientists have been studying and comparing rocks brought back by the Apollo astronauts more than 40 years ago. Previous research had suggested the moon formed after a small planet collided with earth, about four-and-a-half billion years ago.

Now researchers at UCLA have learned the crash was a head-on collision -- not just a glancing blow, which earlier theories claimed. Astrophysicists analyzed seven moon rocks and compared them with six volcanic rocks from Hawaii and Arizona. They found the oxygen in all rocks, both moon and earth - had an identical chemical signature.

That's strong evidence that most of the moon was formed from primordial earth, and not the other planet that crashed into earth. Primordial means the time when the earth was still being created, and was part liquid... or an oozing substance - and had not taken the solid shape that it has now.

Instructional Links

Video: Bill Nye the Science Guy, The Moon

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Journal Article: Physics Today, Rocks’ Chemistry Reveals Details of Moon’s Origins, July 12, 2014,ip,custuid&custid=infohio

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Online Video Quiz: PBS LearningMedia, Quest Quiz, the Moon

Website Articles: View of the Solar System, The Moon

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