Scientists Find Mystery Mass Under Moon’s Surface

12 Juin, 2019, 04:55 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Mass Anomaly Detected Under the Moon's Largest Crater Study

"When we combined that with lunar topography data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, we discovered the unexpectedly large amount of mass hundreds of miles underneath the South Pole-Aitken basin", he said. All of that metal, and basically the entire area surrounding the mass and the crater, could tell them a lot about how the asteroid impact happened and what the solar system was like when it did.

This false-color graphic shows the topography of the far side of the Moon.

The Chinese lander Chang'e-4 and its Yutu-2 rover are now exploring the Von Karman crater within the South Pole-Aitken basin, and NASA also wants to target the South Pole for future exploration.

According to a study from Baylor University in Texas, a huge mass has been discovered beneath with South Pole-Aitken basin, a 2,500-kilometre-wide crater on the surface of the moon.

The findings appear in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

In the study, the team analyzed data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory mission (GRAIL). Deep below the moon's South Pole-Aitken basin (the largest preserved impact crater anywhere in the solar system), researchers have detected a gargantuan "anomaly" of heavy metal lodged in the mantle that is apparently altering the moon's gravitational field.

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This mass, the researchers believe, is weighing the floor of the basin downward by more than 800 metres, around 10 percent of its total depth, explaining a depression in the bottom of the basin previously attributed to contraction.

"We did the math and showed that a sufficiently dispersed core of the asteroid that made the impact could remain suspended in the Moon's mantle until the present day", James said.

Wedged deep into the Aitken basin, our natural satellite's South Pole, one can find a mysterious mass of material, report researchers from the Baylor University.

If the mass is a metallic asteroid core, it didn't get stuck inside the moon intact; instead, computer simulations suggest it could have spread out as it struck.

The team notes that a concentration of dense oxides associated with the final stages of a magma ocean solidifying inside the moon would also produce the same readings. If the mass was produced by an impact, its location around 400 kilometers southeast of the crater's center could help improve our knowledge of how impacts form craters, according to the paper. While larger impacts have occurred (including some on Earth) the moon's unchanging environment is much better at preserving the evidence of impacts.

If the mass is from around the same time as the impact that made the basin, this implies an upper temperature limit of around 1,480 degrees Celsius for the latter half of the Moon's lifespan, consistent with estimates based on seismology.

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