SAN FRANCISCO – The new images provided by two NASA spacecraft suggest that the surface of the moon may have been battered by powerful impacts which took place a long time ago. The gravity map that NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory furnished proves that the surface of the moon is almost entirely pulverized.
NASA has long been looking for the right means to determine the way in which the moon was formed. Scientists found significant evidence after they received an ultra-precise map of the planet from their Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory. According to the newly discovered data, the surface of the moon was almost entirely damaged by powerful celestial impacts.
The mission of the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory started in September 2011 and it cost $496 million. The images were captured with the help of the twin probes, Ebb and Flow which constantly circled the moon in order to detect important modifications in its structure. They also measured the distance changes that were caused by lunar mountains, craters and subsurface mass concentrations; thus creating the first detailed lunar gravity map.
The moon has been studied for decades and yet, there seem to be many other pieces of information left to be discovered. Luckily, the new lunar map has helped shed light on some of the aspects that had been haunting scientists.
For starters, they have discovered that the crust of the moon is very porous which means that the planet was battered by numerous impacts long ago. Moreover, the crust of the celestial body is much lighter than researchers initially estimated, namely, 21 to 27 miles instead of 30 to 40 miles. The most unusual forms that were noticed, however, were the subsurface “dikes” of solidified magma. Researchers believe these have preceded the moon’s violent impacts. The dikes also confirm the Giant Impact hypothesis, according to which the moon coalesced from pieces of the Earth resulting after an impact with a Mars-size body.
Thanks to the detailed map provided by NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, scientists could determine where life might have existed on Mars. The most recent hypothesis is that Mars’ ocean might be underground.