What is it about?

The natural decay of the volatile element Rb to Sr is used to understand the behavior of other volatile element in the Earth and Moon. This investigation suggests that the Earth and Moon formed with about the same amounts of volatile elements that they have today. Large amounts of volatile elements were not removed from the Earth-Moon system by a giant impact, nor were large amounts of volatile elements added by meteorites bombarding the Earth

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Why is it important?

Understanding the origin of volatile elements has been a key issue in solar system science because water is deemed necessary for the formation of life. Water further is a critical resource needed for human exploration of the Solar System

Perspectives

The basic observation associated with this paper was made over 50 years ago. However, the observation could not be placed in the proper context to provide temporal constraints on the origin of water until recently when the field of Earth-Moon evolution had matured to its present state.

Lars Borg Borg
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

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This page is a summary of: The origin of volatile elements in the Earth–Moon system, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, February 2022, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2115726119.
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