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The Moon Geology, Exploration, Origin
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- possible water ice at poles

- radio waves reflected off ice

1998: Lunar Prospector

- also found evidence for ice

- crashed near pole in 1999

Currently: Smart 1 Probe

- European satellite

- ion propulsion (several months!)

- will search for water at poles

Slide 14

Moon Rocks: Sampling the Surface of the Moon

Moon Rocks: Sampling the Surface of the Moon

surface material: regolith

pulverized by constant impacts

~2500 samples brought back

by astronauts; ~850 lbs total!!

all rocks are IGNEOUS (i.e.,

from molten processes)

totally dry rocks (no water)

all rocks older than 3 Byr

Slide 15

Moonquakes: Studying the Moons Interior

Moonquakes: Studying the Moons Interior

~ 3000 quakes/year

much lower intensity

than Earth: 0.5-1.5 Richter

indicate that Moons

interior is more rigid than

Earths (some plasticity)

Slide 16

Moons interior structure

Moons interior structure

iron-rich core like Earth

asthenosphere layer: somewhat pliable plastic layer

solid layer just below surface no plate tectonics

smaller planet than Earth less internal energy, less geological activity!

moon probably had a weak magnetic field early in history

- core is now solid, so no current is generated

Slide 17

Color-coded images illustrate surface geography

Color-coded images illustrate surface geography

Clementine data

blue lowland marias

red - highlands

Galileo data flyby in 1989

blue lowland marias

red - highlands

Slide 18

Theories for Origin of Moon

Theories for Origin of Moon

Fission: originally part of Earth but torn free

Problem: would have fallen back or been flung into space, not into orbit.

Fails to explain why lunar chemistry differs from Earth's

Co-Creation: formed in its present orbit

can not explain why lunar chemistry differs from Earth's

Capture: formed as a separate planet but captured by Earth

Conditions for successful capture very stringent

Impact: formed from Mega-Impact of Mars-sized planet

Computer modeling suggests SS forms 100 or so small planets, then collide to make larger objects

can explain differences in chemistry:

impact occurred after chemical differentiation in Earth; therefore, not as much iron was part of the Moon

high temperatures during impact would have vaporized the volatile and water vapor in rocks

Currently favored model

Slide 19

Computer Simulation of Formation of Moon

Computer Simulation of Formation of Moon

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