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Orientale Basin Crater Rings: Moon Mystery May Be Solved

Image: Orientale Basin Crater Rings: Moon Mystery May Be Solved

Scientists think they're closer to figuring out what caused the Orientale basin crater rings. (NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio)

By    |   Friday, 28 Oct 2016 05:11 PM

 

Scientists have used a subsurface map of the moon to reconstruct the origin of mysterious bulls-eye crater rings on the moon’s Orientale impact basin.

In papers published Thursday in the journal Science, MIT and other researchers revealed how they discovered that the bulls-eye crater was formed by the impact of a 40-mile-wide object on the surface of the moon 3.8 billion years ago, according to Space.com.

Scientists have deliberated for decades on the origin of the Orientale basin crater rings. The largest of the three concentric rings measures 580 miles across. The two outer rings formed as the moon’s warm crust collapsed inward after the impact, scientists theorized. The inmost ring, they think, formed as a rebound mound several miles high in the center of the crater, which collapsed a few minutes after the impact and caused material to flow outward in a circular pattern.

“Big impacts like the one that formed Orientale were the most important drivers of change on planetary crusts in the early solar system,” Brown University geologist and paper co-author Brandon Johnson said, Space.com reported.

Some of the information was obtained by NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory mission, which studied the moon’s gravity in 2011 and 2012.

The scientists theorized that the object hit the moon at 9 miles per second to create the crater. Paper co-author and MIT geologist Maria Zuber said that missions like GRAIL could help researchers study the internal structure of other bodies in the solar system, such as Venus and Mars.

The Orientale basin is not typically visible from Earth because it appears on part of the moon that faces away from Earth.

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Scientists have used a subsurface map of the moon to reconstruct the origin of mysterious bulls-eye crater rings on the moon’s Orientale impact basin.
orientale basin crater rings, moon, mystery
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2016-11-28
Friday, 28 Oct 2016 05:11 PM
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