The surprising reason why the moon has fewer craters than it should be

The surprising reason why the moon has fewer craters than it should be

You just have to look at Moon Let’s see it had a rough time during its roughly 4.5 billion-year history, but a new study suggests it survived much earlier. asteroid Hits from its surface appears in reality today.

The new research suggests that some of the earliest impacts on the moon left near-invisible imprints as they hit a softer surface: the global ocean of magma that covered the moon in its youth before it cooled and froze.

These relatively soft landings, which leave no lasting trace of their occurrence at all, could explain why the Moon, as it currently appears, does not match what Scientists believe It happened to her in the first billion years or so.

“These large impact craters, often referred to as impact basins – formed during the solidification of the lunar magmatic ocean more than four billion years ago – should have produced craters of different appearance, compared to those formed later in geological history,” Planetary scientist Katharina Milikowicz says: from Curtin University in Australia.

The idea of ​​a global magma ocean on the Moon is Anyway new, but the research delves deeper into the possible timeline of magma and asteroid strikes — and tries to align them with We think we know About what was happening in the solar system at that time.

We have multiple clues for what has happened to the moon since its formation, from modeling of the solar system to evidence of impact shocks in rocks that have already been recovered from the surface by Apollo astronauts.

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some studies It suggests that boiling lakes of magma could have existed for up to 200 million years, and this latest research shows how this would fit with the proposed dates for the early bombardment of large asteroids.

“The time frame for ocean solidification of the lunar magma ocean varies greatly between different studies, but it would have been sufficiently lengthy to experience some of the high impact bombardment history typical of the early periods of solar system development,” Milikowicz says.

“As the moon gets older and the surface cools, it becomes more difficult, and the effects of the bombardment are more visible by remote sensing.”

All of this is very important in determining how the solar system came to be the way it is—and, among other things, learning more about how planets actually formed and how long they survived in certain states.

Even knowing something unknown, like how many asteroid collisions previous assessments of the lunar crater record could miss, helps improve models of what was going on billions of years ago.

And because we’re so close to the Moon, anything that happened to it will have some effect on Earth as well – giving us a better understanding of how our planet and life on it might have looked.

“Translating this discovery will help future research understand the impact that the early Earth would have had and how it would have affected the evolution of our planet,” Milikowicz says.

The search was published in Nature Connections.

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