Moon’s far side holds a massive and very peculiar construction at its South Pole, and researchers now believe they might understand the origin of this abnormality. The South Pole-Aitken crater is a vast basin created by an ancient collision on the Moon, whose width would stretch from New York To Omaha, Nebraska.
Underneath this crater, there is a weird anomaly, an excess of mass expanding over 300 kilometers down, more than ten times the abyss of the Earth’s surface. Researchers think this might be a scrap of whatever collided into the Moon and created the basin.
Two separate data sets helped the research, firstly, topography data from the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) carried by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and worldwide gravity data from the two small Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) probe. Examinations of the pair taken together unveiled a peculiar mass excess in the coat, beneath the crater with about 2.18 quintillion (10^18) kilograms additional mas, as noted in the study published in Geophysical Research Letters.
Regarding the question birthed, how did so much additional mass ended up there, the research team suggested two theories. Firstly, it is possible that some process made specific materials to compress underneath the crater as the lunar crust cooled. Or, secondly, the additional mass could imply the existence of a massive metal heart spread in the Moon’s crust, remnants from the impact.
In any case, if this mass abnormality keeps existing after further observations, it is going to have severe consequences for researchers’ understanding of the Moon’s history. If the collision created the mass, its presence approximately 400 kilometers southeast of the basin’s core could help enhance our knowledge of how collisions create holes, according to the study. If it was created by irregular crystallizing of a lava ocean, then researchers will want to understand how it happened.
Just a while ago, China’s Chang’e 4 probe has discovered evidence of crust material in the crater, probably created by another impactor.
Brad is a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, is an award-winning travel, culture, and parenting writer. His writing has appeared in many of the Canada’s most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who’s not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people’s eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children. Brad is a contributing journalist to Advocator.ca