December 15, 2019 1 min read

If you’re trying to figure out when the genesis of life happened on Earth, maybe you should try searching for evidence on the Moon.

That seems to make no sense, though. Isn’t the Moon just a piece of dead rock with nothing alive crawling on it (except the astronauts who will land there if Artemis 2 goes as planned) and no proof of ever having hosted life? Turns out objects in space don’t necessarily need to be inhabited or even habitable to reveal what happened in the fiery post-Big Bang violence that endured for hundreds of millions of years. A new study insists that lunar impacts from a cosmic era straight out of Dante’s Inferno can help us understand when life started to emerge on Earth.

A mountain in the middle of Yerkes Crater, found in the Mare Crisium impact basin (below), is believed to be “where future robotic and/or human missions could confidently add a key missing piece to the puzzle of the combined issues of early Earth-Moon bombardment and the emergence of life,” said Dan Moriarty, a NASA postdoctoral program fellow at Goddard Space Flight Center, and colleagues in the soon-to-be-published study.

Fun fact: Mare Crisium means “sea of crises.” Pretty appropriate for the remnants of an ancient lunar collision.

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