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Has an object ever left Earth’s atmosphere through natural means?

Published: 15th December, 2021 at 11:00
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Many pieces of space rock have been found on Earth but there may be one single piece from Earth discovered elsewhere.

There are at least 277 pieces of Martian rock that have been found on Earth. But, so far, only one possible piece of Earth has been found in space. Inside a lunar sample returned by the Apollo 14 astronauts, scientists found a 2g fragment of quartz, feldspar, and zircon. These are all common minerals on Earth but highly unusual on the Moon.

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It’s possible that the rock formed on Earth about four billion years ago and was launched into space by an impacting asteroid or comet. But we can’t be sure – recent research suggests the rock may have a lunar origin after all!

Has an object ever left Earth’s atmosphere through natural means? © NASA
The lunar sample ‘Big Bertha’ contains a fragment that may have Earth origins © NASA

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Asked by: James Edgell, Oxford

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