Although being so close to us and also being the object of interest of many studies and research conducted by humans, the Moon has yet a lot of mysteries to uncover. Such mystery that still puzzles astronomers gravitates around the differences between the far side of the Moon, which never faces the Earth, and the side you can admire on a late night walk by the lake.
Scientists recently came up with a challenging hypothesis that could explain the topographical and chemical composition differences between the two lunar lobes. They suggest that this asymmetry could have been caused by the Moon ‘bumping into’ a massive space object, more likely a dwarf planet, a long time ago.
The far side of the Moon is 10 km thicker than the near side
Information dating back to 2012 when it was collected by the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission show that the close side crust is roughly 10 km thinner than the far side’s crust, and that the latter also has a layer rich in materials such as magnesium and iron, which is absent on the near side.
Based on this information, the scientist who led the study, Zhu Meng-Hua conducted a series of tests consisting in 360 unique computer models, simulations that were run to test the viability of the hypothesis concerning the collision. Out of the 360 models, two matched the GRAIL data. The theories suggest that the Moon was either hit by a 780 km diameter space objects or by a 720 km diameter object with a higher speed, both theories speculating that the space object hit the visible side of the Moon.
Each of these possible impacts would’ve caused tremendous amounts of rocks and materials falling back down on the Moon’s far side, a phenomenon which is believed to hold to key to explaining the asymmetry of the lunar lobes.
It might not be an isolated case
Moreover, scientists claim that should this theory be proved, and it might point out to the fact that other planets that show such discrepancies went through a similar process.
The next step of this examination should be the analysis of rocks and material found on the far side of the Moon that does not match the structure and chemical composition of the lunar surface, supposedly remains of the other planet that took part in the collision. The results of this examination could either make the already existing hypothesis more relevant or completely disprove it.
Jasmine holds a Master’s in Journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto and writes professionally in a broad variety of genres. She has worked as a senior manager in public relations and communications for major telecommunication companies, and is the former Deputy Director for Media Relations with the Modern Coalition. Jasmine writes primarily in our LGBTTQQIAAP and Science section.