Is the moon cracking? Yes — and then some. There is an analysis of the lunar surface that shows it’s far more than we thought.
Since the moon formed 4.3 billion years ago, asteroid collision have scarred its face with craters. But the damage goes far deeper, with the cracks extending to depths of 12 miles by some reports.
Though the moon’s craters have been documented, scientists previously knew little about the upper region of the moon’s crust, the mega-regolith, which sustained the bulk of the damage from space rock bombardment. There are computer studies simulations revealed that the impacts from single objects could fragment the lunar crust into blocks about 3 feet (1 meter) wide, opening surface cracks that extend for hundreds of kilometers. This suggests that much of the fracturing in the mega-regolith could have come from single, high-speed impacts, leaving the crust “thoroughly fractured” early in the moon’s history.
These findings helped to address questions raised by NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL), a mission that sent twin spacecraft to the moon in 2011 to create the most detailed lunar gravity map to date.
Data gathered by GRAIL showed that the moon’s crust was far less dense than expected, Sean Wiggins, lead author of the new study and a doctoral candidate with the Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences Department at Brown University in Rhode Island, told Live Science.
Wiggins and his colleagues suspected that ancient impacts could have substantially fractured the lunar surface, “adding porosity and therefore lowering the density,” he said.
Source: Live Science