Using NASA's LRO, scientists find that the Moon might be more metallic than they had earlier thought

The Moon is a product of a collision between a Mars-sized protoplanet and a young Earth.


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) revealed that the Moon might be more metallic than researchers have earlier thought.

Using the Miniature Radio Frequency (Mini-RF) instrument on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft, researchers found evidence that the Moon's subsurface may contain vast amounts of iron and titanium.

The findings of the study were published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters on 1 July.

 Using NASAs LRO, scientists find that the Moon might be more metallic than they had earlier thought

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is a robotic mission that set out to map the moon's surface and, after a year of exploration, was extended with a unique set of science objectives. Image credit: NASA

According to a report in Cosmos, study authors have found that the Moon is a product of a collision between a Mars-sized protoplanet and a young Earth. While the Moon's bulk composition is similar to that of Earth, the Mini-RF team has found a curious pattern on the Moon.

The team found that for craters two to five kilometres in width, the dielectric constant of the material steadily increased as the craters grew larger, but for those between five and 20 kilometres, it remained constant.

"The LRO mission and its radar instrument continue to surprise us with new insights about the origins and complexity of our nearest neighbour," said co-author Wes Patterson, who is the Mini-RF principal investigator from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland.

As per the report, since meteors that form larger craters also dig deeper into the Moon's subsurface, the team concluded that increasing dielectric constant of the dust in larger craters could indicate that the meteors excavated iron and titanium oxides that lie below the surface.

Researchers compared the crater floor radar images from Mini-RF with LRO Wide-Angle Camera’s metal oxide maps, Japan's Kaguya mission and NASA's Lunar Prospector spacecraft, to find that larger craters, with an increased dielectric material, were also richer in metals than on the lunar subsurface.


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