Weird ‘Anomaly’ at the Moon’s South Pole May Be a Metal Asteroid’s Grave
A)HOLLOW MOON THEORY
In 1970, Michael Vasin and Alexander Shcherbakov, of what was then the Soviet Academy of Sciences, advanced a hypothesis that the Moon is a spaceship created by unknown beings. The article was entitled “Is the Moon the Creation of Alien Intelligence?”, and was published in Sputnik,the Soviet equivalent of Reader’s Digest.
Their hypothesis relies heavily on the suggestion that large lunar craters, generally assumed to be formed from meteor impact, are generally too shallow and have flat or even convex bottoms. They hypothesized that small meteors are making a cup-shaped depression in the rocky surface of the moon while the larger meteors are drilling through a rocky layer and hitting an armoured hull underneath.
The authors reference earlier speculation by astrophysicist Iosif Shklovsky, who suggested that the Martian moon Phobos was an artificial satellite and hollow; this has since been shown to not be the case. Sceptical author Jason Colavito points out that all of their evidence is circumstantial, and that in the 1960s the atheistic Soviet Union promoted the ancient astronaut concept in an attempt to undermine the West’s faith in religion.
The Moon rang like a bell
Between 1972 and 1977, seismometers installed on the Moon by the Apollo missions recorded moonquakes. The Moon was described as “ringing like a bell” during some of those quakes, specifically the shallow ones. This phrase was brought to popular attention in March 1970, in an article in Popular Science. When Apollo 12 deliberately crashed the Ascent Stage of its Lunar Module onto the Moon’s surface, it was claimed that the Moon rang like a bell for an hour, leading to arguments that it must be hollow like a bell. Lunar seismology experiments since then have shown that the lunar body has shallow moonquakes that act differently from quakes on Earth, due to differences in texture, type and density of the planetary strata, but there is no evidence of any large empty space inside the body.
B) a mismatch between the surface topography and the gravitational tug of the moon
There’s something very weird, and very dense, under the surface of the moon’s South Pole-Aitken basin, new research suggests.
That unexpectedly massive patch may represent the buried remains of an asteroid that crashed into the moon’s surface and formed that basin in the first place. That new hypothesis is based on data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter missions. When the scientists combined the two types of data, they saw a mismatch between the surface topography and the gravitational tug of the moon.
“Imagine taking a pile of metal five times larger than the Big Island of Hawaii and burying it underground,” study lead author Peter B. James, a geoscientist at Baylor University in Texas, said in a statement. “That’s roughly how much unexpected mass we detected.”
The research relied on two key missions in NASA’s moon-exploration portfolio. The GRAIL mission included two spacecraft, which spent more than a year orbiting the moon, with each spacecraft using the other to map the gravitational tug of the moon. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has spent nearly 10 years at work and has made billions of measurements of the precise height of the moon’s surface.
When it comes to the South Pole-Aitken basin, the topography is particularly striking. The feature is a massive crater stretching 1,240 miles (2,000 kilometers) across the far side of the moon, making it the largest crater planetary scientists know of to date. As the name implies, it’s located near the south pole of the moon as well, and experts believe it was created perhaps 4 billion years ago.
So when the team saw an increase in the gravitational tug of the moon roughly lining up with the neighborhood of the South Pole-Aitken basin, the scientists wondered if the anomaly could trace directly back to the crater itself. “One of the explanations of this extra mass is that the metal from the asteroid that formed this crater is still embedded in the moon’s mantle,” James said.
Another possible explanation for the anomaly, the researchers wrote, is that the area is rich in oxides, which likely would have formed as the moon’s ancient magma ocean cooled and solidified.
However it formed, the fact that the mass anomaly is still so prominent and that it seems to be located about 186 miles (300 km) down also offers scientists an intriguing idea: These facts suggest that the moon’s insides can’t be all that gooey; if they were, the moon’s gravity would pull the massive patch into the lunar center.
The research is described in a paper published April 5 2019 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
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