Utilizing isotope courting and a method based mostly on lunar crater chronology, which entails estimating the age of an object in area partly by counting the craters on its floor, the workforce decided that lava flowed in Oceanus Procellarum as lately as 2 billion years in the past. Chang’e 5 was China’s first lunar sample-return mission and the primary probe to deliver again lunar materials since 1976. After launching in late November and returning in early December 2020, it’s one among a minimum of eight phases in China’s lunar program to discover the whole thing of the moon. Nemchin says there’s no proof that radioactive components that generate warmth (corresponding to potassium, thorium, and uranium) exist in excessive concentrations under the moon’s mantle. Which means these components in all probability didn’t trigger these lavas flows, as scientists had thought. Now, they should search for different explanations for a way the flows shaped. The moon’s volcanic historical past might train us extra about the Earth’s. In line with the enormous influence principle, the moon may be a bit of Earth that obtained knocked free when our planet collided with one other one. “Anytime we get new or improved details about the age of the stuff on the moon, that has a knock-on impact for not simply understanding the universe, however volcanism and even simply normal geology on different planets,” says Paul Byrne, an affiliate professor of earth and planetary sciences at Washington College in St. Louis, who was not concerned within the research. Volcanic exercise not solely formed how the moon seems—these previous lava beds are seen to the bare eye at this time as large darkish patches on the moon’s floor—however might even assist reply the query of whether or not we’re alone within the universe, Byrne says. “The seek for extraterrestrial life partly requires understanding habitability,” Byrne says. Volcanic exercise performs a task within the cultivation of atmospheres and oceans, key elements for life. However what precisely these new findings inform us about potential life elsewhere stays to be seen.