Moon anomaly: ‘MASSIVE’ deposit beneath Moon’s largest crater is ancient asteroid metal

Mysterious large mass discovered on Moon bewilders scientists: 'Whatever it is, wherever it came from'

Mysterious large mass discovered on Moon bewilders scientists: 'Whatever it is, wherever it came from'

Astronomers led by Peter B. James from Baylor University discovered the hidden feature by combining data from NASA's GRAIL lunar orbiter mission and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to look at where regions of high gravity - and therefore mass - overlap with surface features like craters. To me, this story about scientists discovering a massive metallic mass underneath a crater on the Moon has exactly the same vibes. "That's roughly how much unexpected mass we detected". Despite its size, it can not be seen from Earth because it is on the far side of the Moon.

Scientists aren't sure what exactly the newly discovered mass is.

The Chinese lander Chang'e-4 and its Yutu-2 rover are now exploring the Von Karman crater within the South Pole-Aitken basin, and NASA also wants to target the South Pole for future exploration.

The South Pole-Aitken basin is a huge crater produced by an ancient impact on the Moon, whose longest axis would span from New York City to Omaha, Nebraska. Scientists at Baylor University published a study detailing their findings of this "anomaly" beneath the moon's largest crater, at its South Pole.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from spacecraft used for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission to measure small changes in the strength of gravity around the Moon.

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"One of the explanations of this extra mass", James said, "is that the metal from the asteroid that formed this crater is still embedded in the Moon's mantle". The mass is located under a crater in the Moon's South Pole-Aitken basin, and researchers believe it could be metallic remnants from the asteroid that caused the crater in the first place. Beneath this basin lies a odd anomaly-an excess of mass extending at least 300 kilometers down, more than 10 times the depth of the Earth's crust.

According to James, the researchers did the math and it "showed that a sufficiently dispersed core of the asteroid that made the impact could remain suspended in the Moon's mantle until the present day, rather than sinking to the Moon's core".

An image of the lunar surface showing its various basins.

There's something very weird, and very dense, under the surface of the moon's South Pole-Aitken basin, new research suggests.

The team ran complicated computer simulations of large asteroid impacts which suggested that - under the right conditions - an asteroid which had an iron-nickel core could have dispersed into the moon's upper mantle during an impact. If the mass was produced by an impact, its location around 400 kilometers southeast of the crater's center could help improve our knowledge of how impacts form craters, according to the paper. That would yield something like the large mass they see today, which sits underneath the same area it impacted and blew apart so long ago.

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