Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Battered Moon Found in New Lunar Gravity Map

Moon Surprisingly Battered, New Lunar Gravity Map Reveals

Date: 05 December 2012 Time: 02:20 PM ET
moon's gravity field by GRAIL
NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) made this new high-resolution map of the moon's gravity field.

SAN FRANCISCO — The moon and other rocky bodies in the inner solar system were pounded by long-ago impacts far more violently than previously thought, two NASA spacecraft have found.

NASA's twin Grail probes have created an ultra-precise gravity map of the moon, revealing that its crust is almost completely pulverized. The surprising find suggests that Earth, Mercury, Venus and Mars endured a similar beating billions of years ago, researchers said.

The discovery "really opens a window to this early stage of just what a violent place the surfaces of all terrestrial planets were early in their history," Grail principal investigator Maria Zuber of MIT said during a press conference here today (Dec. 5) at the annual fall meeting of the American Geophyiscal Union.


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NASA's GRAIL Creates Most Accurate Moon Gravity Map

December 05, 2012

PASADENA, Calif. -- Twin NASA probes orbiting Earth's moon have generated the highest resolution gravity field map of any celestial body.

The new map, created by the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission, is allowing scientists to learn about the moon's internal structure and composition in unprecedented detail. Data from the two washing machine-sized spacecraft also will provide a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed and evolved.

The gravity field map reveals an abundance of features never before seen in detail, such as tectonic structures, volcanic landforms, basin rings, crater central peaks and numerous simple, bowl-shaped craters. Data also show the moon's gravity field is unlike that of any terrestrial planet in our solar system.

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Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory/NASA.


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