A Baylor assistant professor says the largest crater on the moon may be the result of a giant asteroid crashing into it, and that metal from that asteroid is the cause of a mysterious area of high mass material at the moon’s south pole.
“Imagine taking a pile of metal five times larger than the Big Island of Hawaii and burying it underground. That’s roughly how much unexpected mass we detected,” said lead author Peter B. James, Ph.D., assistant professor of planetary geophysics in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences. The journal, Geophysical Research Letters just published his study, “Deep Structure of the Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin.“
The crater is an oval about the size of the distance between Waco and Washington, D.C. and is several miles deep.
Data collected by satellites orbiting the moon turn up the high mass area.
“One of the explanations of this extra mass is that the metal from the asteroid that formed this crater is still embedded in the Moon’s mantle, ” James said.
Where ever it came from, the report indicates it is weighing the basin floor of the crater downward by more than a half mile.
The area, known as the South Pole-Aitken Basin, is believed to be the largest preserved crater in the solar system.
The basin is thought to have been created about four billion years ago.