November 15, 2022 | David F. Coppedge

Returning to a Young Moon

On the eve of the Artemis launch, questions about
the age and formation of the moon have resurfaced

 

Unless the launch is scrubbed again, the SPS megarocket for the Artemis 1 mission is scheduled for November 16, 2022 early in the morning, just a few hours from this post. It will put an uncrewed Orion craft into orbit around the moon to test the systems in preparation for manned missions in the future.

Update: The rocket launched successfully after a short delay in the morning hours of 11/16.

How Old Is the Moon?

One thing about the moon’s age is uncontroversial: it is 50 years older than when the last Apollo astronaut left. The Big Science consensus maintains there is no controversy about its age before that: 4.5 billion years. But when one inquires about how that is known, long-ignored questions arise. Certain data deserve some attention that the consensus has failed to reconcile with billions of years.

Volcanic eruptions on the moon happened much more recently than we thought (Live Science, 10 Nov 2022). “Volcanoes on the moon were still erupting at least 2 billion years ago,” writes reporter Harry Baker. This is “around 1 billion years more recently than scientists previously believed was possible.” Why is this a problem? The earth is still volcanically active. Why not its satellite? It’s a matter of size.

The uncertainty surrounding the moon’s most recent volcanic eruptions stems from our understanding of the moon’s mantle — the once-liquid magma layer beneath the lunar crust. Unlike Earth’s mantle, which gives rise to volcanisms in part because it’s extremely hot and molten, the moon’s mantle has cooled dramatically in the last few billion years and is only partially molten or completely solidified, leaving the satellite volcanically dead. This would mean that the moon’s mantle was already cooling off when the most recent lunar eruptions occurred. This makes the eruptions hard to explain because volcanic activity normally requires a hot and molten mantle, researchers wrote in a statement.

Chang’E-5 samples reveal how young volcanism occurred on the moon (Phys.org, 21 Oct 2022). The Chinese lander Chang’E that explored the far side of the moon found rocks at odds with the consensus age.

Lunar samples returned by the Apollo and Luna missions are all older than about 3 billion years, leading scientists to suppose that the moon has been geologically dead since then. However, the new lunar samples returned by China’s Chang’E-5 mission in 2021 revealed surprisingly young volcanic activity only 2 billion years old.

For the small rocky moon, the heat fueling volcanic activity should have been lost long before these eruptions 2 billion years ago.

The Apollo measurements, based on radiometric dates, had been massaged to keep the moon old. The new estimates (also based on unprovable assumptions), upset the applecart within the evolutionary timeline. Because it is essential to preserve the moon’s consensus age at all costs, scientists were quick to concoct stories of why hot lava flowed much later than expected in their timeline. The Chinese went to work in their labs testing melting points of rocks. Watch for the “could” word:

Because the late-stage lunar magma ocean cumulates are calcium-titanium-rich and more easily melted than early cumulates, adding these fusible components to the lunar interior through gravitationally driven mantle overturn could have efficiently reduced the mantle melting temperature and thus triggered the young lunar volcanism.

If you accept that without questions, you can win a vacation hut on Mare Desiderii (“Sea of Dreams”).

Moon Origin Theories in Trouble

How was the Earth–Moon system formed? New insights from the geodynamo (PNAS, 24 Oct 2022). 53 years after Neil Armstrong made the first human footprint on the moon, scientists are still puzzled about the moon’s origin. Now there are questions about how the moon got magnetized. Chanting “Great is Artemis of the Envisions,” Fausto Cattaneo and David W. Hughes, offer a new “scenario” to please the Darwinians who need the time. At least, it could please them. Seeing the e-word “evolution” might help. Here, they speak of “magnetic field evolution.” It also helps to ratchet up the perhapsimaybecouldness index:

The last Apollo mission left scientists with many questions. Artwork by Alan Bean, Apollo 12 astronaut. Used by permission.

The most widely accepted scenario for the formation of the Earth–Moon system involves a dramatic impact between the proto-Earth and some other cosmic body. Many features of the present-day Earth–Moon system provide constraints on the nature of this impact. Any model of the history of the Earth must account for the physical, geochemical, petrological, and dynamical evidence. These constraints notwithstanding, there are several radically different impact models that could in principle account for all the evidence. Thus, in the absence of further constraints, we may never know for sure how the Earth–Moon system was formed. Here, we put forward the idea that additional constraints are indeed provided by the fact that the Earth is strongly magnetized. It is universally accepted that the Earth’s magnetic field is maintained by a dynamo operating in the outer liquid core. However, because of the rapid rotation of the Earth, this dynamo has the peculiar property that it can maintain a strong field but cannot amplify a weak one. Therefore, the Earth must have been magnetized at a very early epoch, either preimpact or as a result of the impact itself. Either way, any realistic model of the formation of the Earth–Moon system must include magnetic field evolution. This requirement may ultimately constrain the models sufficiently to discriminate between the various candidates.

Did all the impact theorists ever think about magnetic fields? Apparently not.

Magnetic field lines. Credit: Illustra Media.

Magnetism could help explain Earth’s formation (University of Leeds, 3 Nov 2022). The two lead geophysicists who wrote the PNAS paper (above) try to put a positive spin on their “constraint” that can “discriminate between the various candidates” for the moon’s origin. But how helpful is it to deduce that the magnetic field had to start off strong?

The scientists therefore concluded that if the Earth’s field were to get switched off, or even reduced to a very small level, it would not have the capability to kick in again.

It is this remarkable feature that allows us to make deductions about the history of the early Earth, including – possibly – how the Moon was formed,” added Professor Cattaneo.

Possibility thinking is not supposed to be part of science. After the smiles, some problems surface at the bottom of the article:

Professor Hughes added: “And if that is true, then you have to think, where did the Earth’s magnetic field come from in the first place?

“Our hypothesis is that it got to this peculiar state way back at the beginning, either pre-impact or as an immediate result of the impact.

“Either way, any realistic model of the formation of the Earth–Moon system must include magnetic field evolution.

The Earth was not supposed to have a magnetic field until the core evolved, after the impact that formed the moon (see this AGU paper today, 14 Nov). How did it get a magnetic field “preimpact or as a result of the impact”? One would not expect an impactor to come equipped with a magnetic field. How could it share its field with both bodies? If it didn’t have one, how did the Earth get its magnetic field before the core separated? And if the dynamo cannot make a weak magnetic field stronger, how did it start out so strong?

Houston, we have a problem again.

As we post this, NASA indeed has a problem with the scheduled Artemis 1 mission. The launch team at the Cape needs to repair a leaky valve before launch, which was scheduled for two hours from now. They’re sending a “Red Crew” on a hazardous mission into the blast danger zone on Pad 39B to torque the bolts on the valve. We wish them safety and success.

Update: The Red Crew was able to seal the leak, and launch proceeded successfully after about an hour delay. Read their story at Space.com.

Back to the science. Is it not interesting that so long after textbooks have been proclaiming dogma about the lunar impact hypothesis, these problems are coming up now? See yesterday’s post, too. Here are three new issues with materialistic origin theories for the moon: (1) Volcanic eruptions that are too young for their scenario; (2) Magnetic field origins having to start before the dynamo started; (3) No water for a future lunar base.

We think the public should know about these problems without the spin on their overly optimistic “scenarios.”
Sing along: Hi-ho scenario, the Darwin in the tale.

 

 

 

 

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