There’s a huge mysterious mass buried inside the moon.
A study published in April 2019 revealed a dense mass is buried underneath the largest preserved crater in the solar system, the moon’s South Pole-Aitken basin. Scientists say the mysterious mass might contain metal remains of an asteroid that created the crater approximately four billion years ago.
“Imagine taking a pile of metal five times larger than the Big Island of Hawaii and burying it underground,” the study’s lead author Peter B. James explained. “That’s roughly how much unexpected mass we detected.”
The researchers came up with this explanation by measuring changes in the strength of gravity around the moon. They used data from NASA’s Gratify Recovery and Interior Laboratory mission, as well as lunar topography data.
Scientists say asteroid remains could be lodged in the moon’s mantle, the layer between the crust and core.
“We did the math and showed that a sufficiently dispersed core of the asteroid that made the impact could remain suspended in the Moon’s mantle until the present day, rather than sinking to the Moon’s core,” James said.
Researchers alternately suggest the mysterious mass could be magma that solidified as the moon cooled.
The moon’s South Pole-Aitken basin is approximately 1,242 miles wide and several miles deep, and is located on its far side.