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What lies beneath the surface of the Moon?


In a trio of papers published in Science researchers have presented the most detailed characterization of Moon's surface topography and gravitational field. The GRAIL mission consists of two satellites orbiting the moon. As they orbit the distance between them fluctuates. Those fluctuations are related to surface topography and material density below the surface. The first Science paper focuses on the Moon's overall gravity map. The data reveal previously unseen tectonic plates, volcanoes and craters. Material just below the lunar surface is almost completely pulverized, indicating that Moon was subject to more collisions that previously thought. In the second paper researchers show that the upper crust is much thinner, more porous and less dense than previously thought. The third paper then shows that the lunar crust appears inundated with cooled magma from the core. Overall the results tell a story of an an initially hot object rapidly expanding while cooling. All the while it was fracturing and taking heavy collisions. more

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