A group of researchers found that asteroid strikes on the moon millions of years ago were exactly the same as some of the largest ground strikes, including the one that led to the extinction of dinosaurs.
Silicate glass particles formed during volcanic eruptions or as a result of shock melting are a widespread component of the lunar soil, usually called beads or sphericoliths, ranging in size from a few dozen micrometers to several millimeters. They also differ in shapes.
The glass produced by the blows can be distinguished from the glass produced by volcanic eruptions by chemical and texture characteristics. Volcanic glass provides unique information about the lunar robe, and impact glass reflects the composition of the bark, but not only. These impact glasses also tell us about the dynamics of collisions in the inner part of the solar system.
In a new study, scientists studied microscopic glass balloons extracted from lunar soil samples brought in two years ago by China's Chan'ae-5 mission, and the team combined several microscopic analysis techniques, numerical modelling and geological studies to determine when and how these microscopic glass balloons were formed.
Developments common to the Earth and the Moon
According to the analysis, some of these beads were formed just a few million years ago and others.
In other words, the asteroid responsible for this extinction should have been accompanied by several debris that would have been on the Moon rather than on Earth, which would eventually have led to the formation of these little glass beads. This is just one example, but in general, the study shows that collisions on Earth could have been accompanied by a series of collisions on the Moon, so the frequency of asteroid collisions with the Moon could tell us more about the evolutionary history of our own planet.
The next step for researchers will be to compare the data from these Chinese samples with other lunar soil samples and the age of craters in order to identify potentially other significant lunar effects; they can in turn identify new evidence of effects that have affected life on Earth.