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Once the half life of an isotope and its decay path are known, it is possible to use the radioactive decay for dating the substance (rock) it belongs to, by measuring the amount of parent and daughter contained in the sample.

An important point is that we must have an idea of how much of the daughter isotope was in the sample before the decay started.

It is impossible to predict when a given atom will decay, but given a large number of similar atoms, the decay rate on average is predictable.

This predictable decay is called the half-life of the parent atom, the time it takes for one half of all of the parent atoms to transform into the daughter.

The biggest assumption is that, to first order, the number of asteroids and comets hitting the Earth and the Moon was the same as for Mercury, Venus, and Mars. The bottom line is that the more craters one sees, the older the surface is.

From Wikipedia, radioactive decay is the process in which an unstable atomic nucleus spontaneously loses energy by emitting ionizing particles and radiation.By studying other planets, we are learning more about our own planet.The effects of impacts and how they might affect us here on Earth, global climate change (Venus vs.While not a chemical test, the presence of carbon in a sample (like a meteorite) can be found by vaporizing the sample and passing it through a mass spectrometer.This is also a way to get at the abundance of the various isotopes of carbon.

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