Research, Technology

What is on the far side of the moon?

If you turn off the lights in the whole city at night,the only source of illumination will be the moon. And when the eyes get used to the darkness, the light that reflects the Earth's satellite will be quite bright. Hundreds of years ago, electricity did not exist and it was the Moon that served as the main and only lantern illuminating the path in endless darkness. But light pollution in cities has long deprived us of the opportunity to observe the starry sky. And although we are accustomed to the Moon and take it for granted, it is not without mysteries: from its formation to the far and near sides. And if it was possible to learn a lot about the near side of the Moon and even set foot on its surface, then the far side, hidden from us, remains a mystery. But all the secret becomes clear and scientists continue to study the Earth's satellite and put forward new, extremely interesting theories.

The reason for the difference between the two halves of the moon has remained a mystery since the 1960s, after the Soviet and American missions flew around the satellite.

Where did the moon come from

The prevailing theory of the formation of the moon states,that the satellite appeared as a result of a collision of the Earth with another celestial body. Like other planets, Earth formed from a leftover cloud of dust and gas orbiting the young Sun. And yes, the early solar system could hardly please anyone - a huge number of space objects collided with each other until they reached full planetary status.

However, one of these objects could crash intoEarth at an early stage of its formation. So, a collision with Theia - an object the size of Mars - led to the ejection of evaporated debris into outer space in the form of a young earth's crust. Gravity took the next step, binding these fragments to the vest. This is what most scientists think led to the creation of the moon.

This formation could explain whyThe moon is predominantly made up of lighter elements, making it much less dense than the Earth, according to NASA researchers.

The two sides of the moon appeared due to the collision of space bodies and debris that occurred several billion years ago in the vicinity of the south pole of the moon

Thus, the material from which it was formedThe moon probably consisted of the earth's crust and did not affect the core of the planet. The ejected material from the collision accumulated around Theia's core, following the path the Sun takes across the sky.

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According to scientists, the scenario described above isthe most likely. But the popularity of the theory does not mean that there are no problems with it. Most computer models developed suggest that more than 60% of the Moon is made up of material from Theia. But rock samples collected by the Apollo missions suggest otherwise.

“From the point of view of the composition of the Earth and the Moon, it is incrediblysimilar, but their composition differs slightly. However, this contradiction challenges the Theia-Earth collision model,” said Alessandra Mastrobuono-Battisti, an astrophysicist at the Israel Institute of Technology.

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Two sides of the same moon

As follows from the above, the originThe moon is still a mystery. But what about her sides? The near side (also called the "light side") is filled with stains and remnants of ancient lava flows. And the far (“dark side”) is almost completely devoid of large-scale characteristics. This says a lot about the reasons for the differences in the sides of one celestial body.

The near side of the Moon is represented in the left hemisphere. The far side is represented in the right hemisphere.

So, the difference between "light" and "dark"sides of the Moon were first identified in the 1960s during the Race to the Moon. In particular, on the "light" side is Procellarum kreep terrane (PKT): the concentration of potassium (K), rare earth elements (REE), phosphorus (P), as well as fuel elements such as thorium (a heavy, weakly radioactive silver-white metal) .

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This geological province appears to becentered around the largest of the volcanic plains on the near side of the Moon, Oceanus Procellarum. But in other regions, volcanic deposits are much less. According to scientists, there may be a connection between PKT and lava flows from one side of the moon to the other.

Now the results of a new studypublished in the journal Science Advances, propose to consider a new theory, according to which the differences between the sides of the moon appeared billions of years ago as a result of collisions of cosmic bodies.

We know big beats like thatformed Oceanus Procellarum, will generate a lot of heat. However, the main question is how exactly this heat affects the internal dynamics of the moon, says Matt Jones of Brown University, lead author of the new study.

Billions of years ago, the collision of the Earth with Theia led to the appearance of the Moon

Previously, scientists were able to show that for anyUnder plausible conditions, the largest structures in the solar system end up concentrating fuel elements. The authors of the scientific work believe that heat contributed to the melting of the mantle and produced lava flows, traces of which we are seeing on the surface of the Moon right now.

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The moon is not so simple

So, if heat carries a bouquet of chemicalelements on the "light" side of the Moon, but not on the "dark" side, then the upper mantle on the opposite side would be too cold. This may explain the distribution of material in a similar way. Interestingly, the new hypothesis is consistent with the perceived asymmetry between the sides of our natural satellite.

Markings located on the bright side of the moon,in the past were considered seas. It is interesting that the same spots are on the reverse side, however, as scientists have found out, these spots are actually craters of volcanic origin.

The reason why the surfaces of the Moon are not uniform is the distribution of substances of the KREEP group (potassium, cerium, erbium, europium, phosphorus).

According to the authors of the study, the formation of PKT,is perhaps not only the most important open question in the study of the Moon, but also one of the most important events in the history of our planet's satellite. And because the work combines both events, the results are breathtaking, bringing us all closer than ever to the Moon and understanding its history.