(ORDO NEWS) — A major study showed that in fact, volcanism on the Earth’s satellite stopped not three, but two billion years ago. The discovery will help to better understand how the moon was formed.
Volcanism on the Moon is directly related to the formation of the surface of our satellite. But, as it turned out, these processes are not so simple.
In recent years, there has been a surge in lunar exploration, thanks to satellites sent to the satellite by NASA and other space agencies.
For example, China has sent several orbiters, landers and rovers to the Moon as part of the Chang’e program, including sample return missions.
When did lunar volcanism stop?
A new study by planetary scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) analyzed samples taken by the Chang’e-5 rover dating back 2 billion years.
Their study could provide valuable insight into how early volcanism shaped the lunar surface.
The study was conducted by a team from the Institute of Geology and Geophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (IGGCAS), led by Su Bin, Yuan Jiangyan and Chen Yi, members of the IGGCAS Laboratory of Lithosphere Evolution and Earth and Planet Physics.
Based on the samples returned by the Apollo and Luna missions, scientists have hypothesized that the Moon has been geologically inactive for the past 3 billion years.
However, the new lunar rock samples obtained by the Chang’e 5 mission (and returned to Earth in 2021) were only 2 billion years old, indicating that the volcanic activity has been at least a billion years longer than thought.
Because the Moon is a small, rocky body, the heat that fueled volcanism on the Moon must have died down long before these eruptions occurred.
Scientists have previously speculated that late-stage volcanism could be caused by increased water content or the decay of radioactive elements in the lunar mantle.
However, numerous analyzes performed on samples taken by the Chang’e-5 rover ruled out this hypothesis. The nature of such late volcanism has yet to be unraveled by astronomers.
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