A recent study published in Nature examines a volcanic hotspot that potentially exists beneath a feature on the Moon’s farside (the side facing away from the Earth) called the Compton-Belkovich Thorium Anomaly. Researchers led by the Planetary Science Institute collected data from the hotspot region using microwave instruments onboard the China National Space Administration’s Chang’e-1 and Chang’e-2 orbiters and holds the potential to help scientists better understand the past volcanic processes on our nearest celestial neighbor, as surface evidence indicates lunar volcanic activity ceased between 3 to 4 billion years ago.Continue reading “Volcanic Hotspot Found on the Moon”
Scientists’ detailed study of the Moon dates back to the Apollo missions when astronauts brought rock samples from the lunar surface back to Earth for analysis. Apollo 11 gathered samples from the lunar highland regions, the pale areas on the Moon’s surface easily seen from Earth. The highlands are made of a relatively light rock called anorthosite, which formed early in the history of the Moon, between 4.3 and 4.5 billion years ago.
There’s some mystery involved in the anorthosite formation on the Moon. The age of the anorthosite highlands doesn’t match how long it took for the Moon’s magma ocean to cool. But scientists behind a new study think they’ve solved that mystery.Continue reading “The Moon’s Crust was Formed From a Frozen Slushy Magma”