SCIENCE – Could the largest crater in the solar system be linked to an asteroid? This is the hypothesis emitted by the latest data provided by NASA through its lunar gravity (GRAIL) branch and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which makes accurate measurements of the surface relief of the Moon. newspaper Geophysical research charts.
As it approaches the South Pole-Aitken Basin, the gravitational pull suddenly increases. A phenomenon that would be due to a large amount of metal, which would significantly increase that region of the Moon. "Imagine taking a metal mound five times larger than Hawaii and bury it below the surface," says Peter B. James, geoscientist of Baylor University in Texas, adding that "it's basically close to the unexpected mass ratio" detected.
NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center / University of Arizona
A collision of 4 billion years
This metal clump would be linked to an impact between an asteroid and the lunar surface, four billion years ago, that would form the South Pole-Aitken Basin, the largest crater in the solar system. "One of the explanations for this extra mass is that the metal of the asteroid that formed this crater remained embedded in the lunar mantle," adds Peter B. James.
This gravitational anomaly could also be related to the high concentration of oxides, probably formed when the magma ocean of the Moon would have cooled and solidified, which would also weigh on the surface.
Stretching 2,500 kilometers, the distance between Paris and Moscow in a straight line, the Pole South-Aitken Basin is ahead of Planitia Hellas, which lies on Mars. Despite its greatness, it is not observable from Earth, since it is on the other side of the Moon.
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