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The Other Big Bang
News story originally written on November 18, 1997

Geochemists just released the most accurate estimate of the age of the Moon. This estimate claims that the Moon was formed later than previously thought.

Scientists from the University of Michigan and the University of Tennesee released their findings in the Nov 7th issue of Science. "Our data indicates the moon formed within the time window of 4.52 billion to 4.50 billion years ago. The tungsten isotopic composition of the moon is consistent with the hypothesis that the moon was derived from the Earth itself, or from a large object colliding with the Earth which had a similar chemical composition," U-M professor Alexander Halliday said.

Their research has led these scientists to claim that the Moon was most certainly the result of a collision between the Earth and another body (a body as large as Mars!). This "big bang" must have occurred about 50 million years after the start of the solar system (4.57 billion years ago).

These scientists used the process of spectroscopy to make their findings. A similar process was used by the Mars Pathfinder rover to analyze Martian rocks.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA