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Scientists might have found what may be Earth's oldest rock. The lunar sample was brought to Earth from the Moon by the Apollo 14 astronauts. A team that works with Center for Lunar Science and Exploration (CLSE) discovered the evidence that the rock was launched from our planet by an asteroid or comet.
The impact of the collision threw the material through Earth's primitive atmosphere, into space, where it landed on the Moon's surface which was three times closer to the Earth than it is now. The event might have taken place about four billion years ago, researchers said.
The rock was mixed with the lunar surface materials, according to the study published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters. The team found out that the rock is composed of quartz, feldspar, and zircon, all commonly found on Earth but very unlikely on the Moon.
The chemical study showed that the rock crystallized in a terrestrial-like oxidized system, at terrestrial temperatures, instead of the temperature seen on 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 Kring, a Universities Space Research Association (USRA) scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI).
There's a possibility that the rock is not of terrestrial origin, but instead crystallized on the Moon, but that would require conditions that have never been inferred from lunar samples, researchers said.