Japanese Probe Data Gives New Info on What Moon is Made Of, Still Not Cheese

A Japanese probe Kugaya, originally placed on the moon in 2007, provided some new data yesterday that lends support to the “lunar magma ocean” theory. Kugaya found traces of a mineral called olivine. This olivine is seen as strong evidence toward the moon having a mantle, much like the Earth does. This layer of rock, rich in iron and magnesium, would lie below a crust thicker than the Earth’s.

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In addition to lending new data on the physical composition of the moon, this could provide hints of the moon’s origins. One possible theory which this data supports is that the moon was essentially broken off from the Earth billions of years ago when the planet was hit by an asteroid or other giant space projectile. Then gravity slowly shaped the moon into the rough sphere we see it as today, it’s structure loosely mirroring that of the Earth.

But this theory, called the “Big Whack,” is just one of many. Further research into the implications of the olivine find could narrow it down.

(Via PhysOrg.)

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