Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Not-So-Bright Side of the Moon?*
Maybe Not.

A fascinating study from luna-tics on the grass at the University of California Santa Cruz (home of The Banana Slugs!) suggests that our Moon got a fairly sizable ker-schmeck on its backside by a smaller moon (about 1/3 its diameter or 1/25 its volume) late in the lunar formation process.

This smaller moon (about 1/3 the diameter of the Luna we know and love) would have hit at a relatively slow speed, accounting for the highly unusual difference between the Moon we see and the Moon we don't see on the far side. (Our side has craters and maria, or "seas"; the other side has very high craggy mountains which cannot be explained by high velocity asteroid falls).

Money quote: "This scenario would also help explain why the farside's crust is so much thicker, and why certain minerals are concentrated there, the study said."

This might make it worth our while to go back--and explore the Dark Side of the Moon.

"When will we go back? And who will it be?" - Apollo 13

*With apologies to The Squirrels, Seattle's wittiest band.

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Keep it clean for gene.