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Planetary scientists have long believed that our moon formed following a collision between Earth and another planet, but studies of Earth and moon rocks suggest otherwise. A new analysis of the composition of moon rocks brought back by Apollo astronauts may help finally resolve the mystery.
Here’s the current thinking about how the moon formed. Early in its history, Earth was struck a glancing blow by a Mars-sized planet. That planet was destroyed by the impact, but much of its debris—and some of Earth’s—formed into a disk around Earth that eventually coalesced into the moon. Much evidence supports this scenario. The moon would have ended up hot, boiling off light elements and water, leaving the arid rocky moon we see today; the moon has a small core, consistent with being made from parts of the colliding planet and outer parts of Earth; the Earth-moon system…
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