How asteroids and moons help scientists understand how a collision causes a new planet to ‘break apart’

Studying how these effects affect the bodies of planets, asteroids, moons and other rocks in space helps planetary scientists understand extraplanetary geology, especially where to look for precious materials, including water, ice and even microbial life.

The impact affects the porosity and structure of the moons and planets more dramatically than scientists think, increasing their potential for life. By studying how these effects affect planetary bodies, lunar asteroids and other rocks in space help planetary scientists understand extraterrestrial geology, especially where to look for precious materials, including water and ice, and possibly microbial life.

Studying how these collisions affect the bodies of planets, asteroids, moons and other rocks in space helps planetary scientists, including Brandon Johnson, assistant professor, and Sean Wiggins, a graduate student in the University’s Department of Science. earth-atmospheric and planetary sciences at Purdue University, understand extraterrestrial geology, especially where to look for problems of value, including water, ice and even microbial life.

Every solid body in the solar system is constantly affected by both large and small influences. Even on Earth, every sunspot has experienced at least three major impacts. Using the Moon as a test subject, Johnson, Wiggins and their team set out to determine the relationship between impacts and the planet’s porosity.

Using extensive lunar gravity data and detailed modeling, the researchers found that when large objects collide with the moon or another planetary body, this impact can affect surfaces and structures even very far from the point of impact and in the interior of the planet or moon. myself. . The discovery, detailed in their new study published in Nature Communications, illustrates data about the Moon that has puzzled scientists. The study was funded in part by NASA’s Lunar Data Analysis Program.

“NASA’s GRAIL (Gravity Recovery and Internal Laboratory) mission measured the moon’s gravity and showed that the lunar crust is very porous at very deep depths,” Johnson said. “We had no description of how the moon became so porous. This is the first work that really shows that large impacts can crack the lunar crust and create this porosity.”

Understanding where planets and moons are collapsing, and why, can help space exploration and tell scientists where to best look for life. Wherever rocks, water and air meet and interact there is potential for life.

“There’s a lot to be excited about,” Wiggins said. “Our data explains the mystery. This study has implications for the early Earth and Mars. If life had existed at the time, it would have been these large, intermittent impacts that would have sterilized the planet and boiled the oceans. But if you had life, you can. They could survive in pores and crevices a few hundred feet or even a few miles away, and they could provide these shelters where life could hide from that kind of impact.

“These results have great potential for future missions. Mars or somewhere else. This can help you in your search, tell you where to look.

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