Moon Has Earth-Like, Iron Rich Core According to NASA

Moon Has Earth-Like, Iron Rich Core According to NASA

Moon Has Earth-Like, Iron Rich Core According to NASA. Image courtesy NASA/MSFC/Renee Weber.

By applying new seismological techniques to data from the 1970s Apollo missions, scientists with NASA have discovered proof that Earth’s moon has a core very similar to the planet’s iron rich center. Scientists are eager to determine the exact composition of the Moon’s core because it will allow them to create a more accurate model of how the satellite was formed. New information revealed by re-examining old data gives them insight on the process of lunar dynamo, which may be how the moon developed a strong magnetic force of it’s own during the formation process.

New information shows that the Moon’s core is solid, nearly 150 miles in radius and is surrounded by¬† fully liquid and partially molten layers of nearly pure liquid iron. Seismometers dropped by the Apollo moon mission landers in the early 1970s created the data now being re-examined. Terrestrial seismological methods that are used on Earth to determine our planet’s core composition were applied to the data with startling results.

Array processing was also used to monitor moonquakes and other seismic activity, which are good indicators of certain core characteristics. Seismic waves must pass through the center of a planet or moon at least once during a quake, and the changes in the vibrations give scientists an indication of what materials the vibrations passed through.

Although this new data has given NASA scientists a clearer idea of what lies beneath the surface of our Moon, future missions are being planned to measure the gravity field of the moon. Understanding the small fluctuations and strengths of the gravity field will indicate if the molten mantle is evenly distributed below the surface of the Moon, or if large pockets exist in certain areas. Two space craft will be launched later this year to take in-depth gravity field readings while in close orbit.

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