The mission of “Holy Grail”: search for the lost moon of the Earth




“An intriguing idea,” – said David Smith, deputy principal investigator GRAIL mission at MIT last April. – “And she will be able to explain one of the greatest perplexities of the Earth-Moon – a strange asymmetrical nature of the moon. Its near and far sides are extremely different. ”

Near side of the Moon, directed to us, filled with smooth seas huge ancient lava. In contrast, the opposite side marked by high mountains. Researchers have long sought to explain the differences, and the theory of “two moons”, presented by Martin and Eric Yutsi Esfogom University of California, Santa Cruz, is the latest attempt.

Scientists agree that about 4 billion years ago our planet crashed into an object the size of Mars. As a result, the release of clouds of debris formed the moon. Yutsi and Esfog argue that the cloud has formed two moons. A second, smaller piece of material found at the desired point of the orbit, following the elder Moon.

“As a rule, such moon fused into a single body shortly after formation,” – explains Smith. – “But a new theory suggests that the second moon rested in one of the Lagrange point of the Earth-Moon system.”

Lagrange point – a unique gravitational traps for flying bodies. They can hold an item for a long time, but not necessarily forever. The second moon eventually jumped out and ran into her older sister. A collision has occurred at such a low velocity that there crater. Instead, the smaller moon turned into a cake to form the highlands on the dark side of the moon older. In a short time, these rocks were the only thing that remains of the lost moon.

Flying around the moon, the two spacecraft NASA GRAIL will make accurate measurements of the lunar gravitational field.

“Exploring the gravitational field of the moon,” Grail “will see its interior and highlight the difference between the near and far sides.”

GRAIL will conduct two devices around the moon for several months before the microwave system accurately measure the distance between the two spacecraft. Watching as the distance increases and shrinks as it moves vehicles over the lunar surface, the researchers drew a map of the gravitational field of the moon.

These measurements will tell us a lot about the distribution of the material inside the Moon, and we will present the final details on the differences between the crust and the mantle of the two sides of the moon. If the density of matter on the far side differs from the near, the findings support the “theory of the two moons.”

But this information is only one part of the puzzle. To prove that the moon sister ever existed, need other parts. NASA LRO has already provided key information about the topography of the surface of the moon. Scientists can also take into account the chemical data about the lunar surface and look at old seismic information from Apollo to search for evidence.

Smith argues that we need to send a mission to collect samples of the dark side of the moon, in order to determine the age of the local rocks.

“If there was a small moon, it was the size of one third of the current moon. So after hitting it quickly cooled off, and the rocks on the far side, that is the remains of a lost moon will be older than the ones on the near side. ”

Well, the mystery solar system at NASA abound .
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Tags: Earth , Moon , Solar System .

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