Earth possesses more gold than the moon, why?

The fact that the Earth poses more amount of gold and platinum has been established. The moon has less amounts of highly siderophile elements also known as iron-loving elements as compared to the amounts that are found in the crust of the Earth.

It is a little hard to believe as the both worlds are involved in somewhat of a violent history that occurred 4.5 billion years ago. It is said that a planet named Theia bombarded into the proto Earth resulting in the blowing up of materials coming from both the bodies into the space. Some of the released material was incorporated back in to the Earth and other formed the satellite we now call the moon.

Image: © NASA/Ernie Wright

After some research the scientists developed that highly siderophile elements were probably not part of the elements that were blasted in to the space. They believe the metals that are found in the crust of our world were later brought to Earth by asteroid strikes. The question still remains on how the Earth manage to get a larger share than the moon. Scientists are still curious to know if the Earth was hit by huge large strikes when moon somehow dodged them or if the small amount of these highly siderophile elements were pulled inside our planet because of the effects of gravity over the years.

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A professor of Earth and planetary sciences working in University of California named Qing-zhu Yin says, “This has been a major problem in terms of how we understand the moon’s accretion history.” Yin is also part of the research team that is looking for answers to this query. This team was led by Meng-Hua Zhu working at the Macau University of Science and Technology in China figured out a few answers by making a model of moon getting hit by different materials like it would with asteroid strikes.

It simplified the equation enough for scientists to believe that even though the earth and the moon are both hit by equal amounts of material, Earth’s gravity helps the material to stay incorporated whereas moon just loses it all. The team also updated the impactor-retention ratio that was three times lower than what was previously believed. This means the moon lose not only the highly siderophile elements but also a lot more to the space.

Related: NASA: The ten minute story

The scientists also calculated the fact that the retention of material in lunar crust wasn’t as old as the scientists once believed. According to them, when moon was just a fluid of magma, all the material was retained but sank to the bottom to its core. Then 4.35 billion years ago, as the moon cooled down and started to solidify, the retention capacity increased.

This study was published online on 10th of July in the Journal Nature. “The beauty of this work is such that all of these things are now coming together nicely,” Yin said. “We may have solved this problem, at least until someone finds new discrepancies!”

Reference:
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1359-0
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