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Big Crash Theory: Moon May Be Child of Earth

The Moon might be the child of the Earth and another small planet, scientists say, claiming they have evidence of oxygen isotopes in Apollo moon samples. The team of German researchers studied several lunar meteorites and three basalt rock samples brought back by the crews of the Apollo 11, Apollo 12 and Apollo 16 missions some forty years ago, which they say contain evidence of a Mars-sized planet called Theia having crashed into Earth and created the moon.

Due to a new technique, the team detected a chemical difference between Earth and moon rocks, which according to their theory, proves that moon rocks contain traces of a body that clashed with the Earth.Most computer models esimate that between 70 percent and 90 percent of the moon is that mysterious Theia, so it should have a slightly different chemical makeup than Earth.

"We have developed a technique that guarantees perfect separation of oxygen isotopes from other trace gases, Daniel Herwartz, the University of Cologne researcher and the lead author of the paper published in this week’s issue of the journal Science told Reuters.

"The differences are small and difficult to detect, but they are there," added Herwartz,."We also had soil samples from NASA, but this material is not ideal for determining the bulk oxygen isotopic composition of the moon, as lunar soil may be contaminated by micrometeorites and the like," Herwartz said.

The results they got revealed that half of the moon comes from Thea and half is traced to Earth, although further research is needed to confirm this.

"This work is the first to claim to see such a difference in the isotopes of oxygen," said Robin Canup, a planetary scientist with the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, who was not involved in the research.

"The reported difference between the Earth and moon is extremely small, small enough that I think there will be debate as to whether the difference is real or an artifact of how one interprets the data," she added.

"Because this is such an important issue, this paper is likely to prompt additional work and critical debate on this topic, which will be great for the field no matter the final answer," she said.

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