Einstein Science Reporting for Kids
[ E-mail ]

Contact: Science Press Package
American Association for the Advancement of Science

A moon rock's biography

A rock slice of Sayh al Uhaymir 169. Image Science.
Click here for a high resolution photograph.

A study of a new meteorite from the moon has revealed that the rock endured four impact events and that the last one actually ejected the rock from the ground and launched it into space.

The European and U.S. researchers were able to figure out when and where the four impacts occurred, which should help scientists better understand the moon's history.

Edwin Gnos of Bern University, in Bern, Switzerland and two other geologists discovered meteorite Sayh al Uhaymir 169 in the desert of Oman in 2002. The rock is about the size of an adult's fist. The scientists then analyzed the rock's geology and unique chemical composition.

Meteorite Sayh al Uhaymir 169 in the spot where it was found. Image Science.
Click here for a high resolution photograph.

This information allowed them to pinpoint the spot on the moon where the rock is from. It's called the Lalande impact crater.

In their study, which appears in the 30 July 2004 issue of the journal Science, the researchers describe the impacts that marked the history of the meteorite's life on the moon. The rock was buried at first, and then each of the impacts jostled the rock and changed its position.

Sayh al Uhaymir 169 was found in a rocky desert plain, like this one, in Oman. Image Science.
Click here for a high resolution photograph.

The fourth impact occurred when the rock was fairly close to the surface and sent Sayh al Uhaymir 169 soaring into space approximately 340,000 years ago.

Eventually, after orbiting either Earth or the Sun, the meteorite was captured by Earth's gravity field.


Q & A: A related Q & A with two kids and the corresponding author, also available in French and German.

Back to Science for kids

Science is published by AAAS, the non-profit science society.