The Origin of the Moon

Jon Wade is a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford. His research revolves around the chemical process of planetary formation and habitability.

The Moon, ever present in the sky, has many origin myths. In 1879 Sir George Howard Darwin proposed that the Moon was spun-out of the Earth’s Pacific Ocean basin, whilst other theories suggested it was a captured celestial body. Our modern understanding of its formation was dramatically changed by the Apollo missions which brought back samples that were, chemically speaking, almost identical to Earth rocks. How a chunk of the Earth came to be thrown into space has been the subject of robust scientific debate over the last fifty years. This talk explores the current Lunar origin theories, underpinned by computer simulations developed to design safer cars, which reveal that the old formation ideas may indeed be closer to the truth.