By Meghan Bartels
There’s something very weird, and very dense, under the surface of the moon’s South Pole-Aitken basin, new research suggests.
That unexpectedly massive patch may represent the buried remains of an asteroid that crashed into the moon’s surface and formed that basin in the first place. That new hypothesis is based on data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter missions. When the scientists combined the two types of data, they saw a mismatch between the surface topography and the gravitational tug of the moon.
“Imagine taking a pile of metal five times larger than the Big Island of Hawaii and burying it underground,” study lead author Peter B. James, a geoscientist at Baylor University in Texas, said in a statement. “That’s roughly how much unexpected mass we detected.”
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