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Mysterious Grooves on Moon May Rewrite ‘Most Violent’ Chapter in History

Jul 21, 2016 04:26 AM EDT
Free-Air Gravity Map of the Moon
Free-air gravity map shows a region that extends from the south pole of the Moon up to 50°S. The terrain in the image is based on Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) altimeter and camera data. Info from the LRO-LAMP instrument recently helped scientists discover two geologically young craters near the lunar south pole.
(Photo : NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio)

The latest study conducted on the mysterious grooves on the moon is about to change the "most violent" chapter in history. A detailed analysis done by astronomers on one of the moon's most famous craters reveals more about what really caused it. According to research, a protoplanet which is roughly the size of the New Jersey state caused the crater.

Approximately four billion years ago, space rocks pummeled onto the surface of the moon and earth. Such period was called the Late Heavy Bombardment, which reportedly caused the number of craters on the moon. However, astronomers leading the research claim it was a single enormous object that caused the Imbrium Basin, also known as the man in the moon's right eye

"Previous models estimated that this asteroid was maybe eighty kilometers across," stated Peter Schultz in an exclusive interview with Gizmodo. "We're talking something at least 250 kilometers across. And that is a conservative estimate."

The area surrounding the Mare Imbrium or "Sea of Showers" is the dark patch found on the northwest quadrant of the moon. This area was investigated by Schultz, the lead study author from Brown University. Mare Imbrium is the largest basin on the near side of the moon.

Past research stated that the 720-mile wide basin was caused by a cosmic impact and was thereafter filled with lakes made out of lava. These lakes cooled off that then became dark rock. Aside from the features radiating from the center of the Imbrium Basin, another set of grooves had caused astronomers to push through with the study.

"This second set of grooves was a real mystery. No one was quite sure where they came from," stated Schultz.

Along with David Crawford of Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Schultz might have just solved the mystery. In their study published on the journal Nature, the Imbrium Sculpture and the Imbrium Basin were formed by a giant asteroid as big as a baby planet, or a protoplanet.

"The large basins we see on the moon and elsewhere are the record of lost giants," claimed Schultz.

Schultz along with Crawford now aims to apply their method of research on the craters of Mars and Mercury.

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