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22-Jan-2019 13:13

Fifty thousand years ago, a rock hurled down from space to form Meteor Crater in Arizona.Shards of that asteroid have been collected from the crater rim and named for the nearby Canyon Diablo.Although no rocks have been deliberately returned from Mars, samples exist in the form of meteorites that fell to Earth long ago, allowing scientists to make approximations about the age of rocks on the red planet.Some of these samples have been dated to 4.5 billion years old, supporting other calculations of the date of early planetary formation.The nearest body to Earth, the moon, does not suffer from the resurfacing problems that cover Earth's landscape.As such, rocks from early lunar history should be present on the moon.As science progressed, these methods were proven to be unreliable; for instance, the rise and fall of the ocean was shown to be an ever-changing process rather than a gradually declining one.In an effort to calculate the age of the planet, scientists turned to the rocks that cover its surface.

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The oldest of these have ages between 4.4 and 4.5 billion years.Several attempts to scientifically date the planet have occurred over the past 400 years.Scientists attempted to predict the age based on changing sea levels, the time it took for Earth or the sun to cool to present temperatures, and the salinity of the ocean.By using not only the rocks on Earth but also information gathered about the system that surrounds it, scientists have been able to place the age of the Earth at approximately 4.54 billion years.

For comparison, the Milky Way galaxy that contains the solar system is approximately 13.2 billion years old, while the universe itself has been dated to 13.8 billion years.Gravitational interactions coalesced this material into the planets and moons at roughly the same time.