With the list of unexplored places on Earth growing smaller and smaller everyday, the odds of us finding new evidence pointing to our planet’s origins decreases. Surprisingly we could look to the stars to learn more. The moon is lifeless, and probably always will be, however this very deadness makes it extremely important in our search for the origin of Earth. It is possible that the moon’s surface holds an unprecedented fossil record of life on Earth or from our surrounding planets. The oldest evidence of life on Earth dates back to 3.5 billion years ago. There is a major possibility that we could find evidence of life on the Moon coming from Earth dating back much further than this. Because the Moon has no atmosphere and no plate tectonics, anything that lands there stays in pristine condition. I, without a doubt, believe that there is some form of Earth material showing signs of life on the Moon.

The last time we visited the Moon was 1972. Now we are all very focused on our next major objective, Mars, but are we skipping over a key to our past? We have only visited a minuscule fraction of the Moon and we have already dismissed it as lifeless and dead. There is so much potential for what we could find if we go back.

Through the research of Luis and Walter Alvarez in the 1980s it was discovered that small bits of Earth and astroids are sprinkled around the Earth. After asteroid impacts, pieces of rock had been flung into space and melted on re-entry into the atmosphere creating tektites. The bits and pieces of crater and asteroid spread all over the world is a testament to the violence of the event and evidence that most of the ejected crust took to space and even circled the globe before finally falling back to Earth. Could these chunks of rock travel to the moon though? A Journal, Icarus, in 2002 said it could and that although most rock travels back down to Earth, an appreciable amount breaks free and fell onto other bodies in our solar system. This was proven when the meteorite ALH 84001 was discovered and believed to contain fossils of bacterial life from Mars. Although the bacteria part was wrong, this discovery did point to the fact that planetary rocks could routinely travel vast distances across the solar system. This also breathed life into the concept of panspermia which is the idea that microbes can travel from planet to plant on rock blasted into space by an impact.

A man named John Armstrong teamed up with Llyd Wells and Guillermo Gonzalez to begin serious work of calculating whether a impact on the Earth could send enough amounts of material to the moon. They decided that in order for this idea to be accepted they would need to figure out how big the impact would need to be to propel crust beyond our planets gravitational pull and they would need to see if the frequency of these events is enough for appreciable quantities of material to end up on the moon. Through their research they found that the asteroid would actually only need to be about 100 meters in diameter and leave a crater a kilometer across, this is relatively small as asteroids come in the past. It seems the rate of these types of impacts is roughly once every 100,000 years recently, and far more frequently in the distant past. Armstrong and his team calculated that a single impact of a 100 meter asteroid would deposit about 120 kilograms of fairly pristine Earth rock on each 100 square kilometers of the moon surface. Even with a conservative estimate, there could be up to a few million tons of Earth rock on the Moon. The material is there and waiting to be found, all we need to do is look for it.

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CC BY-SA 4.0 Fossils on the Moon by Charlie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

4 Comments
  1. Ishika N. 5 days ago

    Dear Charlie,
    I am very intrigued by your article because it involves space and the greater world around us. I’ve always had a special interest in the world around us and like that you wrote such an insightful article about it.One thing you said that stands out for me is: “It is possible that the moon’s surface holds an unprecedented fossil record of life on Earth or from our surrounding planets.” I think this is interesting, because this would give us a chance to explore our surroundings. Your article reminds me of something that happened to me. One time I was taking a test, and there was this article that was discussing whether life could exist in the Arctic lakes. In there, they conducted research on one of Jupiter’s moons in a similar fashion and found that there is a possibility for life to exist. This just leads to show that the Earth is just as connected and important as the rest of the Solar System. Thanks for your project. I look forward to seeing what you write next because this article was very well-written.

  2. Judge Thomas 2 months ago

    Charlie,

    This post is awesome. I did some research on panspermia for the astronomy poster for physics that we had to do, and found some very cool data analytics. While looking online relating to this subject, I found that there is a solar system containing about 6 or 7 planets that are extremely close to each other. The article further describes how life can possibly move quickly in time, jumping from one planet to another. The equations in the article look crazy but after reading about them, they were essentially theories on how organisms travel through space and how many different probability outcomes of organisms landing on planets there could be. Towards the end of the article, the equations started to get more theory oriented. Also, there was the brief mention to Abiogenesis, but the article essentially said it was too complicated to address in this publication. This is the link if your interested, https://arxiv.org/pdf/1703.00878.pdf. I thought it was really cool about how we could find more about our past on the moon too. Thanks for the post.

    -JTK

  3. Kira 2 months ago

    Hey Charlie! This is pretty freaking cool! I never would have thought that the moon could be key in learning about the history of the Earth. With the constant shift of focus on our astral bodies with each president in America that you mentioned in a previous post, I somewhat doubt we’ll be able to accomplish much on the actual exploration of this idea for quite some time. Even so, I’m sure with increasing understanding and research we will be able to do more with this in the future, preferably sooner rather than later. I can’t wait to see where you went with this!

  4. Edwin 2 months ago

    This is very interesting because I like the universe and the mystery the universe. I learned about the life of the moon and the last time when the human visited the moon, was in 1972. The interesting thing about the moon and its mysteries.

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