Mass metal anomaly found hiding below the moon’s surface

Rodiano Bonacci
Giugno 12, 2019

The feature may be the core of an asteroid or planetary chunk, or possibly a frozen ocean of magma. Despite its size, it can not be seen from Earth because it is on the far side of the Moon.

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The far side of the moon is hiding a colossal secret beneath its airless, pockmarked surface.

No one is quite sure what it is - the most precise wording researchers can muster is a "large excess of mass".

The team saw an increase in the gravitational tug of the moon roughly lining up with the neighbourhood of the South Pole-Aitken basin, suggesting that this anomaly could be tied to the crater. "That's roughly how much unexpected mass we detected", said lead author Peter B. James in a press release.

James is one of a handful of USA scientists who announced their discovery in a study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

This unusual dense mass is causing the basin floor to go down by more than half a mile and according to computer simulations of big asteroid impacts, it's possible that under the right conditions, an iron-nickel core of an asteroid can be distributed into the upper mantle (the layer sandwiched between the Moon's crust and core), during an impact.

The South Pole-Aitken basin - the largest crater in the Solar System - is a very big impact structure on the far side of the Moon.

Scientists have detected a mysterious mass of material beneath a 1,200-mile crater on the surface of the moon. Essentially, something caused a giant hole on the Moon billions of years ago, and astronomers have just discovered that there's something big - really big - buried underneath the surface.

For these reasons, geologists are eager to explore the basin to glean clues about the moon's formation and composition. The Chinese Chang'e 4 lander landed in the basin, specifically inside a smaller crater called Von Kármán.

When the team combined the GRAIL data with topographic information taken from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, they discovered the huge, anomalously dense mass.

But one place where this crater is abundantly evident is on gravity maps. They used data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission.

With humans headed back to the Moon sooner rather than later, the crater could be an interesting location for further study, though NASA and other space-faring organizations already have plenty of scientific objectives on their plates.

On the far side of the moon, buried nearly two hundred miles under the South Pole-Aitken basin (the largest preserved crater in our solar system), is a mysterious mass. Peter B. James and his team of scientists from Baylor University believe it could be the metal core of an asteroid which head-butted the moon and left that 1,242-mile-wide crater behind.

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