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The Moon’s crust is richer in metals such as iron and titanium than that of the Earth

The moon has a bonanza of metals like iron and titanium deep below the surface, according to NASA, which raises questions about a long-standing formation theory.

The leading theory claims that the moon was created from the wreck created when a Mars-sized planet called Theia collided with young Earth 4.5 billion years ago.

If this were true, our only natural satellite would have about the same amount of iron as Earth, but it actually has much more, according to the NASA team.

The findings, published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, were based on data sent back by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).

In some parts of the moon, especially the “dark” parts of the surface, the concentrations of metals in moonstones were higher than in some rocks on Earth.

The leading theory claims that the moon was created from the wreck created when a Mars-sized planet called Theia collided with young Earth 4.5 billion years ago.

The leading theory claims that the moon was created from the wreck created when a Mars-sized planet called Theia collided with young Earth 4.5 billion years ago.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter radar scenes (left) of four craters and the associated high-resolution photo (right) used to study signs of metals in those craters

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter radar scenes (left) of four craters and the associated high-resolution photo (right) used to study signs of metals in those craters

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter radar scenes (left) of four craters and the associated high-resolution photo (right) used to study signs of metals in those craters

Study leader Dr. Essam Heggy of the University of Southern California, explained, “It really begs the question of what this means for our earlier formation hypotheses.”

Analysis showed that the moon under its surface is more metallic than previous estimates, which were originally based on Earth’s composition rather than direct study.

Dr. Heggy said that through our understanding of how much metal the moon actually has, scientists can gain a deeper understanding of its formation.

“Scientists can limit the ambiguities about how it was formed, how it evolves, and how it contributes to preserving habitability on Earth,” he said.

Life on Earth would not be possible without the moon, because it keeps our planet’s axis of rotation stable, which regulates the seasons and regulates our climate.

Using radar images from the LRO, Dr. Heggy and colleagues focused on the composition of particulate matter at the bottom of many of the moon’s craters.

This fine dust in the craters are the remnants of ejected materials that are pushed up from under the moon’s surface during meteor attacks, the team said.

The deeper the impact, the more metal there was – suggesting that some areas are richer in metal than Earth – especially the dark Northern Hemisphere.

It disputes the idea that the Moon got its metal from parts of the Earth’s mantle and crust that had been launched into orbit after a massive collision with Theia.

One reason the Theia theory is up for debate is the higher concentration of iron oxide found on the Moon by NASA rovers than in the Earth’s crust.

The latest study, which uses radar to probe deeper into the surface of the moon, details a section of the moon that has not been studied often.

Researchers found that there may be a higher proportion of iron on the Moon compared to Earth than previously believed.

The findings, published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, were based on data sent back by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)

The findings, published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, were based on data sent back by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)

The findings, published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, were based on data sent back by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)

“It really begs the question of what this means for our previous formation hypotheses,” Heggy said.

By understanding how the Moon was formed and, in fact, how the more than 200 other moons in the Solar System were formed, we can gain a deeper understanding of how planets form, according to the team.

This may include deeper insights into how and where conditions outside of Earth could form and what it might look like, Heggy explained.

Co-author Dr. Wes Patterson of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. Maryland, the radar imager on the LRO made this discovery possible.

“The LRO mission and its radar imager Mini-RF continue to surprise us with new insights into the origins and complexity of our closest neighbor,” he said.

Worried to discover more, the researchers have already begun investigating crater floors in the Moon’s southern hemisphere to see if the same trends exist there.

The findings are published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

SCIENTISTS DO NOT AGREE HOW THE MOON SHAPED BUT MUCH BELIEVE IT IS THE RESULT OF AN IMPACT BETWEEN EARTH AND ANOTHER PLANET

Many researchers believe that the moon formed after the Earth was struck billions of years ago by a planet the size of Mars.

This is called the giant impact hypothesis.

The theory suggests that the moon is made up of debris left over from a collision between our planet and a body about 4.5 billion years ago.

The colliding body is sometimes called Theia, after the mythical Greek Titan who was the mother of Selene, the goddess of the moon.

Many researchers believe that the moon formed after the Earth was struck billions of years ago by a planet the size of Mars. This is called the giant impact hypothesis

Many researchers believe that the moon formed after the Earth was struck billions of years ago by a planet the size of Mars. This is called the giant impact hypothesis

Many researchers believe that the moon formed after the Earth was struck billions of years ago by a planet the size of Mars. This is called the giant impact hypothesis

But one mystery has persisted, revealed by rocks brought by the Moon’s Apollo astronauts: Why are the Moon and Earth so similar?

Over the years, several theories have emerged to explain the similar fingerprints of the Earth and Moon.

Perhaps the impact created a massive debris cloud that thoroughly mixed with the Earth and later condensed to form the Moon.

Or Theia happened to be chemically similar to the young Earth.

A third possibility is that the moon was formed from earthen materials rather than Theia, although this would have been a very unusual type of impact.

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