Wed. Aug 21st, 2019

The Moon Might Be Lopsided Due To An Ancient Impact With A Small Planet

3 min read


NASA’s space scientists have come to a reasonable conclusion as to why the Moon is lopsided. Scientists believe now that they have come to a conclusion to the mystery pondered for decades. New data provided by the U.S. space agency implies that an earlier collision between the Moon and another space object, maybe a small planet, was the culprit who left the lunar surface unequal.

The best explanation that the new research offers is that a same-sized planet has impacted the Moon during the young solar system. The difference between its sides has been argued ever since the Apollo mission time, scientists earlier believing that Earth had two moons a few billion years back which fused, conceiving the unequal surface it has today.

The Moon is lopsided due to an impact with a small planet in the early history of the solar system

NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission measurements back in 2012 have offered the additional information needed regarding the lunar structure. These measurements concluded the fact that the dark side of the Moon has an outer layer, thicker than the closest side and has an additional crust of material, while the near side of the Moon has a thinner and a softer coat.

A co-author of the research, Dr. Meng Hua Zhu said that the specific information collected by GRAIL had offered a new look into the structure of Moon’s layers below the surface.

Dr. Meng Hua Zhu’s Macau University of Science and Technology team concluded numerous computer simulations where collisions with the Moon resulted in the layer that’s covering the Moon today. The study suggested that the most probable scenario is that a planet, approximately 480 miles (780 Kilometers) in diameter has crashed into the visible side of the Moon at about 14,000 mph (22,500 kph).

The simulation depicts the strike would have liberated enormous quantities of material that would end up back on the lunar surface, covering the crust on the farthest side in about 3 to 6 miles (5 to 19 kilometers) of junk. The computer simulation also explains the mysterious differences in isotopes of potassium, phosphorus, and elements which are rare on Earth, such as tungsten-182 among the Earth and Moon’s surfaces.

Scientists plan to confirm the simulation with real data from lunar expeditions and Chang’e-4 mission

Macau University’s research, therefore, gives a cause to the isotope anomaly with the massive impact scenario. Steve Hauck, professor of Case Western Reserve University, said that understanding the bases of the distinctness between the two studies sides of the Moon is an essential concern in lunar science.

More planets have hemispherical differences, but there is a massive amount of information on the Moon which scientists can evaluate and theorize with, so the significance of this work could probably be comprehensive of other places too, not only the Moon, Hauck said. Scientists are expecting to expand the computer simulations with evidence from lunar expeditions, as well as China’s Chang’e-4 mission, which departed to the far side of the Moon and landed there in January.

Observations of evidence from the Chang’e-4 expedition showed elements from the Moon’s center on the surface of the pit where the lunar probe dropped anchor. This data adds to the collection of evidence, which implies that a massive collision took place about 3.9 billion years back.



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