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Mass anomaly discovered under the largest lunar crater

  Mass anomaly discovered under the largest lunar crater
This false color chart shows the topography of the other side of the moon. The warmer colors indicate a high topography and the blue colors a low topography. The South Pole Aitken Basin (SPA) is shown in shades of blue. The dashed circle shows the position of the mass anomaly under the pelvis. Credit: NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center / University of Arizona

Under the largest crater of our solar system – the Moon's South Pole Aitken Basin – a mysterious large mass of material was discovered that, according to a Baylor, could contain metal from the asteroid that crashed into the moon and formed the crater study.

"Imagine taking a pile of metal five times larger than the Big Island of Hawaii and burying it underground, so much of this unexpected mass was discovered," said senior author Peter B James,

Ph.D., assistant professor of planetary geophysics at Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences. The crater itself has an oval shape and a width of 2,000 kilometers – about the distance between Waco (Texas) and Washington (DC) – and is several miles deep. Despite its size, it can not be seen from Earth because it is on the other side of the Moon.

The study "Deep Structure of the Moon-South Pole Aitken Basin" was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters .

To measure subtle changes in gravity around the Moon, the researchers analyzed data from spacecraft used for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (GRAIL) mission Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (NASA).

"When we combined this with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's lunar topography data, we discovered the unexpectedly large amount of mass hundreds of miles below the South Pole Aitken Basin," James said. "One of the explanations for this extra mass is that the metal of the asteroid that formed this crater is still embedded in the lunar mantle."

The dense mass – "whatever it is, wherever it comes from" – weighs the pelvic floor more than half a mile down, he said. Computer simulations of large asteroid impacts suggest that, under the right conditions, an iron-nickel core of an asteroid is dispersed during a strike in the upper mantle (the lunar crust-core layer).

math and showed that a sufficiently distributed core of the asteroid that caused the impact could float in the lunar mantle to this day instead of sinking to the Moon's core, "James said.

Another possibility is that the large masses of this are a concentration of dense oxides associated with the final stage of the solidification of the lunar magma ocean.

James said that the South Pole Aitken Basin – which was said to have been formed about 4 billion years ago – is the While the Solar System has the largest surviving crater in the Solar System, while most of the Solar System, including the Earth, may have had greater impact, most of these influences have been lost.

James called the Basin "one of the best natural laboratories for investigating catastrophic influences." an ancient process that has all influenced the rocky planets and moons that we see today. "

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Further information:
Peter B. James et al. Deep Structure of the Moon-South Pole Aitken Basin, Geophysical Research Letters (2019). DOI: 10.1029 / 2019GL082252

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Baylor University

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Mass anomaly discovered under the largest lunar crater (2019, 10 June)
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