Our bad moon has been something of a punching bag for the inner solar system, and new research suggests it’s probably accelerating because it was still a hot, soft little baby planet.
Without any atmosphere to protect it, the Moon has been heavily licked by asteroids and other wayward celestial bodies throughout the ages, as testify to the many craters on its surface. But a new study from Australia’s Curtin University suggests that some fundamental influence may be responsible for shaping some of the Moon’s larger features.
“These large impact craters, often referred to as impact basins, that formed during the solidification of the lunar magma ocean more than 4 billion years ago, distinguish them from those formed later in geologic history. should have produced visible craters,” The Curtin Professor and lead researcher Katarina Miljkovic explained in a statement.
NS The study appears in the journal Nature Communications.. Milijkovic says this may explain the origin of basins such as the Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin that are less defined and ring-shaped than smaller impact craters.
“A very small moon formed with a global magma ocean, which cooled over millions of years, forming what we see today,” Milijkovic said. “So when asteroids and other bodies hit a soft surface, it would not have left such a severe impression, meaning there would be little geologic or geophysical evidence that the impact did occur.”
As the Moon aged and cooled, its surface hardened, and the impressions left by the bombardment would create more distinctive craters than we can easily make out today.
Miljkovic says the research helps fill in some gaps in our understanding, not just the history of the Moon.
“This discovery will help future research to understand the impact that the early Earth may have experienced and how it affected the evolution of our planet.”