Scientists studying the moon have long wondered about the low metallic content of Earth’s satellites. After all, if the moon is made up of a piece of earth, shouldn’t there be metallic materials like it? NASA’s Lunar Recovery Orbiter (LRO) has finally found an explanation for this apparent isolation: the metal may be buried deep beneath the surface.
No one knows exactly how the moon was formed, but most researchers have accepted the possibility of a collision as the most probable. According to this model, a huge planet the size of Mars collided with the primitive Earth a few billion years ago. The impact exploded a large part of the Earth’s crust into space, creating a ring that slowly merged with the moon we know today.
The catch is that the moon’s chemical composition does not seem to support any such source. At least, we can see that part of the moon does not support it. The highlands of the moon, visible as the lighter regions of the surface, contain less metal than the earth. Meanwhile, the Gar Maria planes have high metallic content but the two properties can be formed simultaneously.
Further new data could eventually help unravel this mystery for a device called miniature radio frequency (mini-RF). Mini-RF measures the vacuum constant, a way to measure the performance characteristics of an element by comparing it to a vacuum. NASA has developed this tool to scan craters for water ice but it can detect metals.
According to a new study, the dielectric constant on the moon increases with the size of the crater. Garbage of 1 to 3 miles (2 and 5 kilometers) in diameter shows higher metallic content when viewed from the LRO, but the increase was about 3-12 miles away. The team estimated that the first few hundred meters of surface metal oxides were lower, but the density was higher.
To confirm the hypothesis, the researchers compared their results with existing metallic oxide maps of the moon from missions such as Japan’s Selenological and Engineering Explorer (Selene) and NASA’s lunar projector spacecraft. Certainly, the data show that the higher the density of the larger metallic metals, the more relevant this data may be to NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (Grill), which shows that there is much denser material beneath the moon’s surface.
The team is still not talking about solving most of it. The next step is to conduct a similar scan in the southern hemisphere of the moon to see if the moon has the same geology.