PerspectivePlanetary Science

The Origin of the Moon

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Science  23 Nov 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6110, pp. 1040-1041
DOI: 10.1126/science.1229954

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The Apollo program radically changed our understanding of the origin of Earth and the Moon. The return of a large number of samples for analysis, allowing the determination of isotopic, chemical, and mineralogical compositions of lunar rocks, resulted in a “scientific giant leap” and also posed a particular challenge. Samples from the Moon have primordial isotopic compositions identical to those of Earth, whereas current models predict that they should be distinct, like other solar system materials. On pages 1047 and 1052 of this issue, Ćuk and Stewart (1) and Canup (2) provide simulations that offer differing solutions to the problem.