Scientists Discover Previously Unidentified Mass Beneath Surface of the Moon

pgmrdlm shares a report from CBS News: A previously unknown deposit of an unidentified physical substance larger than the size of Hawaii has been discovered beneath the surface of the moon. Scientists at Baylor University published a study detailing their findings of this “anomaly” beneath the moon’s largest crater, at its South Pole. They believe the mass may contain metal carried over from an earlier asteroid crash. According to the study — “Deep Structure of the Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin” — which was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters in April, the large mass of material was discovered beneath the South Pole-Aitken crater, an oval-shaped crater that is 2,000 kilometers (about 1,243 miles) wide and roughly 4 billion years old. According to Baylor University, the unidentified mass was discovered “hundreds of miles” beneath the basin and is “weighing the basin floor downward by more than half a mile.” The scientists discovered the mass by analyzing data taken from a spacecraft used during NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission, which was a lunar gravity mapping exploration to study the moon’s interior and thermal history.

According to the published study, “Plausible sources for this anomaly include metal from the core of a differentiated impactor or oxides from the last stage of magma ocean crystallization,” which hypothesizes the moon’s surface was once a molten liquid ocean of magma. They also believe the mass could be suspended iron-nickel core from an asteroid that previously impacted the moon’s surface.

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