Beneath the lunar surface, a previously unknown deposit of an unknown physical substance larger than Hawaii has been discovered. Baylor University researchers have published a study detailing their findings on this "anomaly" under the largest crater of the Moon at the South Pole. They believe the mass could contain metal that was carried away by a previous asteroid crash.
The Deep Structure of the Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin study, published in April in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, revealed the large mass of material beneath the South Pole Aitken crater, an oval-shaped crater with a width of 2,000 kilometers and an age of about 4 billion years. According to Baylor University, the unknown mass "hundreds of miles" below the basin has been discovered and weighs "the bottom of the pool by more than half a mile down."
Hawaii and buried it underground. So much unexpected mass we've discovered, "said senior author Peter B. James Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Planetary Geophysics at Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences.
Baylor scientists discovered the Mass by analyzing data from spacecraft used during NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission, which was a lunar gravity mapping exercise using two spacecraft to study the Moon's interior and thermal history.
Scientists are not sure what exactly the newly discovered mass is, according to the published study, "The plausible sources for this anomaly include metal from the core of a differentiated impactor or oxides from the last phase of magma-ocean crystallization."
Baylor scientists believe that the mass also consists of an iron-nickel core of an asteroid that was previously on the lunar surface was beaten.
"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," James said.