What’s on the far side of the moon?

If the lights were turned off throughout the city at night, the moon would be the only source of illumination. And when the eyes get used to the darkness, the light that reflects the earth’s satellite will be quite strong. Hundreds of years ago, there was no electricity and it was the Moon that served as the main and only lantern that illuminated the path in infinite darkness. But light pollution in cities has long deprived us of the opportunity to observe the starry sky. And even though we are used to the moon and take it for granted, it is not without mysteries: from its formation to the distant and nearby sides. And if much has been learned about the nearest side of the moon and even set foot on its surface, the far side, hidden from us, remains a mystery. But all the secret is clear and scientists continue to study the earth’s satellite and present 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 moon formation states that the moon was formed as a result of the Earth’s collision with another celestial body. Like other planets, the earth was formed from a remnant of dust and gas that orbited the young sun. And yes, the early solar system could hardly please anyone – a large number of space objects collided with each other until they reached full planetary status.

However, one of these objects can crash into the earth at an early stage of its formation. So, a collision with Theia – an object as large as Mars – led to evaporated debris being thrown into outer space in the form of a young crust. Gravity took the next step and tied these fragments to the vest. This is what most scientists believe led to the creation of the moon.

Such a formation may explain why the moon consists predominantly of lighter elements, which makes its density significantly smaller than that of Earth, NASA scientists believe.

The two sides of the moon appeared due to the collision between space bodies and debris that occurred several billion years ago near the moon’s south pole

The material from which the moon was formed probably consisted of the earth’s crust and did not affect the planet’s core. The ejected material from the collision gathered around Theia’s core and followed the path that the sun takes over the sky.

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According to researchers, the scenario described above is the most likely. But the popularity of the theory does not mean that there are no problems with it. Most computer models that have been developed indicate that more than 60% of the moon is composed of material from Theia. But stone samples collected by the Apollo missions indicate otherwise.

“In terms of composition, the Earth and the Moon are incredibly similar, and their composition differs somewhat. But this contradiction challenges the Theia-Earth collision model,” says Alessandra Mastrobuono-Battisti, an astrophysicist at the Israel Institute of Technology.

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Two sides of the same moon

As a result of the above, the origin of the moon is still a mystery. But what about her pages? The near side (also called the “light side”) is filled with stains and remnants of ancient lava flows. And the far side (“dark side”) is almost completely without large-scale properties. This says a lot about the causes of the differences in the sides of a celestial body.

The nearest side of the moon is represented in the left hemisphere. The distal side is represented in the right hemisphere.

Thus, the differences between the Moon’s “light” and “dark” sides were not identified until the 1960s during the Moon Race. Particularly on the “light” side is Procellarum kreep terrane (PKT): the concentration of potassium (K), rare earth metals (REE), phosphorus (P), as well as fuel elements and thorium (a heavy, weak radioactive silver-white metal).

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This geological province appears to be centered around the largest of the volcanic plains near the moon, called Oceanus Procellarum. But in other regions, volcanic deposits are much smaller. According to researchers, 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 study published in the journal Science Advances offer 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 that large effects like the one that formed Oceanus Procellarum will generate a lot of heat. The main question, however, is how exactly this heat affects the lunar internal dynamics, says Matt Jones from Brown University, lead author of the new study.

Billions of years ago, the Earth’s collision with Theia led to the moon appearing

Previously, researchers have been able to show that under all reasonable conditions, the largest structures in the solar system eventually concentrate fuel elements. The authors of the scientific work believe that heat contributed to the mantle melting and producing lava flows, traces of which we see on the Moon’s surface right now.

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The moon is not so simple

So if heat transports a bunch of chemical elements to the “light” side of the moon, but not to the “dark” side, then the upper mantle on the opposite side would be too cold. This may explain the distribution of materials in a similar way. Interestingly, the new hypothesis is consistent with the perceived asymmetry between the sides of our natural satellite.

The marks on the bright side of the moon were once considered seas. It is interesting that the same spots are on the back, but as researchers have discovered, these spots are actually craters of volcanic origin.

Причина, по которой поверхности Луны неоднородны заключается в распределении веществ группы KREEP (калий, церий, эрбий, европий, фосфор).

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 and for all of us closer to the moon than ever and understand its history.

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