Moon's crust reveals tumultuous past

2012-12-06 11:27
 (File, Shuji Kajiyama, AP)

(File, Shuji Kajiyama, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - New images of the Moon's battered crust point to a violent past in which it was battered by comets and asteroids during its first billion years, US scientists say.

The new findings come from the GRAIL mission, a pair of spacecraft named Ebb and Flow that are orbiting the Moon and measuring its gravitational field.

"It was known that planets were battered by impacts, but nobody had envisioned that the (Moon's) crust was so beaten up," said Maria Zuber, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) scientist leading the mission.

"This is a really big surprise, and is going to cause a lot of people to think about what this means for planetary evolution," she said in a statement about the findings, to be published this week in the journal Science.

Unlike the Earth's crust, which is repeatedly recycled through the process of plate tectonics, the Moon's hard crust dates back billions of years, offering clues to the formation of the solar system, including Earth.

The GRAIL mission has allowed scientists to stitch together a high-resolution map of the Moon's gravity, reflecting surface structures like mountains and craters as well as subterranean features.

The images suggest the Moon's crust is 34-43km thick, considerably thinner than was previously thought, according to Mark Wieczorek, another GRAIL scientist.

"This supports models where the moon is derived from Earth materials that were ejected during a giant impact event early in solar system history," he said.

Around 98% of the crust is deeply fragmented, porous material, the result, scientists say, of very early, massive impacts.

"This is interesting for the Moon," Zuber said. "But what it also means is that every other planet was being bombarded like this."
Read more on:    space  |  astronomy

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Millions of plastic particles in our food!

Scientists and researchers believe that almost five million tons of plastic is dumped in the oceans every year and it’s affecting our food.



Plastic on your plate
Prince George the green prince?
Lean, green, drifiting machine
One man's $1 million vision for an eco Africa

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

It may be hard to maintain a steady rhythm as you find yourself juggling a zillion things. Slow down a little and let go of more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.