The moon’s battered crust has deep fractures under its surface that may extend miles underground, according to findings from two NASA spacecraft orbiting our closest neighbor.
Though it looks like a peaceful hunk of cheese from here, scientists now believe that the moon took quite a severe beating in its early days, even more so than previously thought, reports Boston.com.
“We have known that the moon’s crust and other planetary crusts have been bombarded by impacts, but none of us could have predicted just how cracked the lunar crust is,” said Maria Zuber, the MIT geoscientist who led the mission, called GRAIL.
This insightful new look at the moon’s battered crust comes from the detailed gravity mapping by the twin spacecraft, which began their orbit around the moon early this year. The MIT-led mission has collected evidence from its first findings suggesting that the fractured lunar interior below the surface could mean that other rock-based planets like Earth may have suffered similar beatings early in their history, reports Yahoo.
The NASA spacecraft (called Ebb and Flow) also found that the moon’s crust isn’t as thick as scientists have long thought. They now estimate the moon’s outermost layer to be about 25 miles thick.
Ebb and Flow are the first spacecraft dedicated to measuring lunar gravity. The washing machine-sized craft orbit about 35 miles above the moon’s surface. The spacecraft have gotten a closer look at landforms like volcanoes, basins, and craters on the moon. The mission will end later this month when Ebb and Flow crash into the moon.
The findings regarding the moon’s battered and cracked surface were presented Wednesday at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco and published online in the journal Science.