Asteroid impacts on the Moon millions of years ago correspond to large space rock impacts here on Earth – including the massive impact that wiped out the non-avian dinosaurs.
The finding shows that major impacts during Earth’s prehistory were not isolated events. Instead, these asteroid impacts were accompanied by a series of smaller hits both here and there moonwhose surface is dotted with over 9,000 craters left by impacts of space rock.
The research could help astronomers better understand the dynamics of the interior solar system and help calculate the likelihood of our planet being hit by potentially devastating massive space rocks in the future.
Scientists at Curtin University’s Space Science and Technology Center (SSTC) in Australia achieved the results by examining microscopic glass beads in returned lunar soil samples Earth from China’s Chang’e-5 Moon Mission 2020.
These tiny glass beads were created by the intense heat and pressure of meteorite impacts. This means researchers can reconstruct a timeline of the lunar bombardment by determining the ages of these beads.
The SSTC team found that both the timing and frequency of the asteroid Impacts on the moon were reflected in space rock impacts on Earth, meaning the timeline the team created could also provide insight into our planet’s evolution.
“We combined a wide range of microscopic analysis techniques, numerical modeling and geological surveys to determine how and when these microscopic glass beads formed from the moon,” the study’s lead author Alexander Nemchin, a professor at SSTC, said in a statement.
The age of some of the moon glass beads suggests they were formed around 66 million years ago, around the time of the Dinosaur Killing Asteroidknown as the Chicxulub impactor, struck Earth in what is now the Gulf of Mexico, near Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.
The impact led to what is known as the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event, which ultimately killed three-quarters of all living things on Earth, including nonavian dinosaurs.
About 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) wide, the Chicxulub impactor struck Earth at about 12 miles per second (19.3 kilometers per second) or 43,200 mph (69,524 km/h) and left an impact crater about 93 wide miles (150 km). 19 km deep. Aside from the shockwaves created by the initial impact, the asteroid impact caused a number of life-altering knock-on effects, including raise thick clouds of dust that obscure the sun.
The SSTC’s new research joins other work suggesting this monster-dinosaur-killing space rock may have been accompanied by other, smaller asteroids that have also struck Earth, which has been revealed by examining the history of asteroid impacts on the Earth moon could be revealed.
“The study also found that large impact events on Earth, such as Chicxulub Crater 66 million years ago, may have been accompanied by a series of smaller impacts,” Nemchin said. “If true, this suggests that the lunar impact age-frequency distributions could provide valuable information about impacts on Earth or the inner solar system.”
The team now wants to compare the data collected from the Chang’e-5 lunar soil samples with other lunar soil samples and with the age of craters on the lunar surface. This analysis could uncover other impact events on the moon and, in turn, help uncover evidence of asteroid impacts here on Earth that may have affected life.
The research was published in the journal on Wednesday (September 28). scientific advances.