The Secret History of the Moon

Where did the moon come from?

The Moon has drawn out our sense of wonder since before we were fully human. Where did it come from? What secrets are written in its rocks?

In this epic video, filmmaker John D. Boswell explores the secret history of the moon—what we think we know, what still puzzles us, and how new theory may help reconcile the two.

Where did the moon come from?

The leading theory suggests the moon was formed after a massive collision between a Mars-sized planet Theia and Earth in the early days of the solar system. Theia was smashed apart and reformed in Earth’s orbit as the moon. Called the giant impact theory, the general idea is solid but the exact details remain a work in progress. In recent years, scientists have proposed new ideas to further sharpen science’s best lunar creation story.

For most of our history, its story was cloaked in myth and mystery. Only now are the vivid details coming into focus. This video takes you back 4.5 billion years to witness the dramatic ways which the moon could have formed, according to the latest mind-blowing theories. By reading the clues written in Moon rocks, we are closer than ever to knowing its full story. But the Moon still holds its secrets close. What else is it hiding?

As the moon is the only substantial body in the solar system that we have travelled to and retrieved rocks from, its samples are valuable to scientists. Dr Snape has studied the ratios of isotopes of lead and uranium in rocks returned by the Apollo missions and from lunar meteorites. This ratio acts as a deep-time clock that he has used to calculate when a rock formed. 

‘The moon has a record and acts as a beautiful lab for understanding early planetary processes. This will be applicable to Mars, Mercury or Venus, places that are hard for us to access, and it can even tell us about our own planet,’ said Dr Snape.

Earth is not quite so useful because plate tectonics bury and recycle rocks. 

‘This is why we love the moon so much,’ he said. ‘It is a treasure trove, geologically speaking.’

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