“It’s not going to get affected by much alteration or shock.” The technique used to analyze these lunar samples, however, was considered a little risky since it involved completely dissolving the zircon within acid.
“This was the very first time the zircon would completely disappear,” says Barboni.
Some scientists think that life formed as late as 4.1 billion years ago.
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“It’s just a very complicated problem they are addressing here, which is why we still don’t have a clear answer to such an obvious question as the age of the Moon,” Carlson tells Zircon has already been found to be a valuable tool for dating rocks here on Earth.
It’s a type of rock that crystalizes from magma and remains relatively unchanged over millions and billions of years.
The chemical signatures of zircon allowed the scientists to estimate when the Moon’s solidification occurred — a key process that is often considered the beginning of the Moon’s life.
However, the results may not be enough to truly settle the debate on the Moon’s age, according to Richard Carlson, the director for the department of terrestrial magnetism at Carnegie Institution for Science.
Zircon is thought to have crystalized back when the Moon was still volcanically active; magma from the lunar interior erupted onto the surface, where it eventually cooled and crystalized into the zircon.