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The Earth and Moon were bombarded with meteoroids 800 million years ago

Earth and moon were bombarded with meteoroids 800 million years ago, just as complex life began, lunar craters reveal

  • Researchers studied lunar craters because the lack of atmosphere keeps them intact
  • The team used data from a Japanese lunar orbiter to study 59 different craters
  • These were created at about the same time by a mass bombardment
  • The same bombardment also hit Earth and may have brought in phosphorus

Just as 800 million years ago the first signs of complex life on Earth occurred, meteoroids bombed the planet and its moon, moon craters see.

A team from the University of Osaka used data collected by the Terrain Camera on the Kaguya spacecraft in a lunar orbit to determine the age of 59 different craters.

Unlike Earth, the moon is not subject to erosion, making it easier for scientists to find, investigate and accurately date asteroid impacts on the surface.

The Japanese team says the craters they studied originated 800 million years ago when a shower of large meteoroids hit Earth and the Moon.

They created 12 miles wide craters on the Moon, but on Earth they caused tsunamis, wildfires, and introduced large amounts of phosphorus – an important building block of life.

The Japanese team says the craters they studied originated 800 million years ago when a shower of large meteoroids hit Earth and the moon

The Japanese team says the craters they studied originated 800 million years ago when a shower of large meteoroids hit Earth and the moon

The meteoroids were produced when a giant 62-mile-wide asteroid disintegrated into dozens of smaller rocks deeper in the solar system, the research team said.

Earth was flooded with 110 million billion pounds of debris – up to 60 times more than the space rock in the city that wiped out the dinosaurs.

The mass bombardment of the Earth and Moon occurred just as the first land plants and the origins of multicellular animals evolved.

Lead author Professor Kentaro Terada, from Osaka University, said this was an era of major environmental changes on Earth – just before the Cryogenian.

The brutal bombardment described in Nature Communications could have given new impetus to life on Earth because it provided the life-giving chemical phosphorus.

PHOSPHOR: AN IMPORTANT CONSTRUCTION OF A LIFE THAT CAN COME FROM SPACE

Although not nearly as abundant on Earth as carbon, hydrogen or oxygen, phosphorus is one of the most important elements of life on our planet.

It helps form the backbone of the long chains of nucleotides that make up DNA – the building blocks of biological life as we know it.

Phosphorus is also vital for cell membranes and the cellular energy-carrying molecule ATP.

Phosphorus likely boarded meteorites millions of years or even billions of years ago.

The meteorites are believed to contain a phosphorus-containing mineral called schreibersite.

Earth’s impact craters created before 600 million years ago have been obliterated by erosion, volcanism and other geological processes.

So to learn more about ancient meteorites, Terada and his team examined the moon where there is no weathering or erosion due to the lack of an atmosphere.

They found that eight of the 59 craters they viewed were formed simultaneously, including the dramatic 60-mile-wide Copernicus crater.

They based their results on radiometric dating of Copernicus ejected material and information obtained from glass beads collected during the Apollo missions.

“The Moon experienced an asteroid shower about 800 million years ago, and since an asteroid shower took place on the Moon, a similar event must have occurred on Earth,” Terada explained.

Although not nearly as abundant on Earth as carbon, hydrogen or oxygen, phosphorus is one of the most important elements of life on our planet.

Prof Terada said, “An asteroid shower may have brought a large amount of phosphorus to Earth – affecting the terrestrial surface environment.”

It helps form the backbone of the long chains of nucleotides that make up DNA – the building blocks of biological life as we know it.

Phosphorus is also vital for cell membranes and the cellular energy-carrying molecule ATP, and has been suggested for years to have come to Earth on a meteorite.

“Understanding the bombardment of the Earth system by meteoroids is of great scientific and practical importance, as impacts are potentially dangerous to Earth,” said Terada.

They created 12 miles wide craters on the Moon, but on Earth they caused tsunamis, wildfires and introduced large amounts of phosphorus - an important building block of life

They created 12 miles wide craters on the Moon, but on Earth they caused tsunamis, wildfires and introduced large amounts of phosphorus - an important building block of life

They created 12 miles wide craters on the Moon, but on Earth they caused tsunamis, wildfires and introduced large amounts of phosphorus – an important building block of life

The Cambrian explosion, a rapid evolutionary event that resulted in the divergence of large animal groups, occurred 541 million years ago.

At least five mass extinctions have occurred since then – with asteroid impacts considered a major cause. But they can be good for life, but they can also be bad.

Terada said, “The Moon’s crater chronology provides new insight into the external forces of asteroids that propelled ecosystems to larger and more complex organisms after 800 million years ago.”

The findings are published in the journal Nature Communications.

EARTH HAS FIVE AMAZING EXTINCTION EVENTS WITH THE MOST FAMOUS A DINOSAUR DEADLY ASTEROID

Five times the vast majority of the life of the world has been extinguished in so-called mass extinctions.

End-Ordovician mass extinction
The first of the traditional big five extinction events, about 540 million years ago, was probably the second most serious. Almost all life was in the sea at the time and about 85% of these species disappeared.

Late Devonian mass extinction

About 375-359 million years ago, major environmental changes triggered an elongated extinction event that wiped out large fish groups and formed new coral reefs for 100 million years.

Five times the vast majority of the life of the world has been extinguished in so-called mass extinctions. The most famous is perhaps the End-Cretaceous, which wiped out the dinosaurs. Artist's impression

Five times the vast majority of the life of the world has been extinguished in so-called mass extinctions. The most famous is perhaps the End-Cretaceous, which wiped out the dinosaurs. Artist's impression

Five times the vast majority of the life of the world has been extinguished in so-called mass extinctions. The most famous is perhaps the End-Cretaceous, which wiped out the dinosaurs. Artist’s impression

End-Permian Mass Extinction (The Great Dying)
The greatest extinction event and the event that most affected the earth’s ecology occurred 252 million years ago. As many as 97% of the species that leave behind a fossil record have disappeared forever.

End-Triassic mass extinction
Dinosaurs first appeared in the early Triassic, but large amphibians and mammalian reptiles were the dominant land animals. The rapid mass extinction that happened 201 million years ago changed that.

End-Cretaceous mass extinction

An asteroid fell to Earth 66 million years ago and is often accused of ending the dinosaurs’ reign.

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