The moon turned itself inside out billions of years ago

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Over 4.2 billion years ago, the moon turned itself inside out to create the lunar surface that has become familiar to humanity.
The team of course has its own ideas about the major incidences that might have formed the moon.
The researchers say rock samples collected during the Apollo mission, for instance, may indicate there was a time when the moon “flipped inside out.”
Related: A chunk of the ‘protoplanet’ that made the moon may be stuck near Earth’s core “Our moon literally turned itself inside out,” research co-author and LPL associate professor Jeff Andrews-Hanna said in a statement.
The University of Arizona team suggests the moon formed rapidly, leaving it entirely covered with a hot magma ocean at first.
As this ocean cooled and hardened, it would have formed the outer layers of the moon, including its mantle and crust.
“Analyzing these variations in the moon’s gravity field allowed us to peek under the moon’s surface and see what lies beneath,” Broque said.
“For the first time, we have physical evidence showing us what was happening in the moon’s interior during this critical stage of its evolution, and that’s really exciting.


The moon formed the lunar surface that is familiar to humans by turning itself inside out over 4.2 billion years ago.

Most experts agree that the moon formed about 4.5 billion years ago when Earth collided with another massive body in the solar system, launching molten material into space and eventually coalescing into our natural satellite.

A group of scientists from the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) have, however, characterized the events leading up to the moon’s birth as “more of a choose-your-own-adventure novel.”.

The moon-Earth system that exists today is said to have originated from a variety of possible routes that Earth’s natural satellite could have taken to fully form. It goes without saying that each member of the team has an opinion on the main events that could have created the moon. According to the researchers, rock samples taken during the Apollo mission, for example, might show that the moon “flipped inside out” at some point in the past. “.”.

If this conclusion is accurate, it may also provide an answer to a long-standing question regarding the composition of the moon.

Relative to this: A portion of the “protoplanet” that formed the moon might be lodged close to Earth’s core.

Jeff Andrews-Hanna, an associate professor at LPL and co-author of the study, said in a statement, “Our moon literally turned itself inside out.”. The precise order of events during this crucial period of lunar history, however, has not been well-illustrated by physical evidence, and there is substantial disagreement over the specifics of what actually transpired. “.

Is there titanium on the moon’s near side?

Unexpectedly high titanium concentrations have been found in basaltic lava rocks that were recovered from the moon. Furthermore, volcanic rocks rich in titanium have been found to be mainly found near the lunar nearside, according to satellite observations. The question of how these specific rocks got there and why they aren’t more widely distributed has scientists scratching their heads.

The University of Arizona team hypothesizes that the moon first formed quickly, when it was completely engulfed in a hot ocean of magma. These oceanic layers, which included the moon’s crust and mantle, would have formed as they cooled and solidified. The newborn moon would have continued to be turbulent at lower layers, though.

The final remnants of this massive lunar ocean may have crystallized into dense materials like ilmenite, a mineral abundant in iron and titanium, according to models of moon formation.

“You would expect this layer to sink deeper into the moon’s interior because these heavy minerals create a gravitational instability because they are denser than the mantle underneath,” Weigang Liang, a research leader and former doctoral candidate at LPL, said.

What are still unanswered questions are whether this material would sink all at once as a single “blob” after the moon solidified, or a little at a time as smaller blobs? Additionally, if it sank globally inside the moon, how did some of it rise to carry titanium to the nearside of the moon?

The German Aerospace Center scientist and co-lead author of the study, Adrien Broquet, stated in the statement, “Without evidence, you can pick your favorite model.”. “The geologic evolution of our moon is significantly affected by each model. ****.

Previous models created by co-author and scientist Nan Zhang of Peking University proposed that a massive impact on the moon might have caused a thick layer of material rich in titanium under the crust to move to the moon’s nearside. Once there, the material would have sank, formed sheet-like slabs, and cascaded to the moon’s interior, leaving behind intersecting bodies of dense deposits rich in titanium beneath the crust.

It was “like a lightbulb went on” when Andrews-Hanna and her team saw the model predictions. “Slight changes in the moon’s gravity field show the exact same pattern, which indicates a network of dense material hiding beneath the crust. “.

The Moon Formation Models GRAIL.

The team used data on lunar gravity anomalies found by NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) dual-spacecraft mission to support its molten theories of titanium-rich ilmenite material and observations of the moon.

“We were able to look beneath the surface of the moon and see what’s below by analyzing these variations in the moon’s gravity field,” said Broque.

The conformance of GRAIL data with ilmenite layer simulations was thus confirmed.

This confirmation also demonstrated the potential utility of gravity-field observations for tracking the distribution of ilmenite remnants that remain after most of the dense layer has sunk to the moon’s deep interior.

According to Liang, “Our analyses demonstrate that the models and data tell one remarkably consistent story.”. “Grail observations reveal that ilmenite materials migrated to the nearside and sank into the interior in sheet-like cascades, leaving behind a vestige that affects the moon’s gravity field anomalies. “.

Additionally, when the moon turned inside out could be determined by the team. According to their theory, the ilmenite-rich layer sank before these impacts because massive, old lunar impact basins are interfering with the gravity anomalies. The fact that this “cross-cutting” indicates that the sinking event occurred earlier than 4 Point 22 billion years ago suggests that the sinking may have been the catalyst for volcanism, which was later observed throughout the lunar surface.

The intriguing image of the moon that we currently have is made more nuanced by this research. Both on the side of the moon nearest to Earth and in the Oceanus Procellarum region, a dark area, would have formed as a result of the lunar mantle overturning billions of years ago.

The moon’s lower elevation and thinner crust, largely covered in lava flows, contrast with the thicker crust found in the moon’s far side regions. Additionally, the concentration of rare elements like thorium and titanium is higher. The moon, according to Andrews-Hanna, is essentially unbalanced in all ways. The fact that we now possess tangible proof of what was occurring inside the moon at this crucial juncture in its development is truly thrilling.

The earliest history of the moon is, it turns out, written below the surface; it only took the right set of models and data to reveal this story. ****.

Broquet continued, “It is fascinating to see the remnants of early lunar evolution still visible beneath the surface.

Future missions, like those equipped with a seismic network, would make it possible to examine the geometry of these structures more thoroughly. “.

If and when NASA’s Artemis III mission returns humans to the moon for the first time since the Apollo missions ended fifty years ago in 2025, the results may also contribute to future research on our devoted lunar companions.

“When the astronauts from Artemis finally set foot on the moon to usher in a new chapter of human exploration,” Liang said in closing. “When the Apollo astronauts first set foot on our neighbor, our understanding of it will be very different. ****.

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