Gooey, Magma Ocean May Have Once Roiled Inside the Moon

May 2, 2018

By Stephanie Pappas

The ancient moon may have had a gooey interior: A new study suggests that some 4 billion years ago, Earth’s beloved satellite harbored a secret subsurface ocean of magma.

The churning of this molten ocean may have created a magnetic field similar to the one that protects Earth from charged space particles today. Measurements of moon rocks brought back by the Apollo astronauts in the 1960s and 1970s prove that the moon once had a strong magnetic field above its surface, but how the satellite managed to sustain this field is a complete mystery.

“We’re trying to understand what could cause this really strong magnetic field,” said Krista Soderlund, a planetary scientist at the University of Texas at Austin and a co-author of the new study.

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3 comments on “Gooey, Magma Ocean May Have Once Roiled Inside the Moon

  • @OP – Gooey, Magma Ocean May Have Once Roiled Inside the Moon

    As with other planets and larger moons, the fact that the Moon is a sphere, would indicate that it was once semi fluid under the heat energy of accretion impacts, and the compressive forces gravity!



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  • Even if the moon had always been cold and solid rock it would still have become spherical because the force of gravity overcomes the strength of rock for objects more than about 400 miles in diameter. Even solid rock flows like a very viscous liquid under such forces.



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  • Arkrid Sandwich #2
    May 4, 2018 at 7:23 am

    Even if the moon had always been cold and solid rock it would still have become spherical because the force of gravity overcomes the strength of rock for objects more than about 400 miles in diameter.

    That is true, but in the case of our Moon, it would also have had the heat from the giant impact which created the Earth and the Moon, AND the tidal drag from a low Earth orbit next to a rapidly spinning Earth with a five hour day!
    There would also be some spin of the Moon itself before it became almost tidally locked with one face to the Earth!

    Pluto is also “solid rock”, but in that part of the Solar System the rock is mainly water!



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