NASA’s GRAIL solves ‘Man in the Moon’ mystery

There’s a new kid on the block, or rather, on the moon. It would appear that the notion that the craters on the moon were created by asteroid strikes is getting some serious challenge, thanks to NASA.

The data supports that the theory about asteroid strikes might be wrong, and for very good reason. Instead, it supports the idea that the craters on the moon were brought on by magma that carved out pieces of the moon. It all started in 2012 when researchers used data from NASA’s GRAIL probes that orbited the moon to create a map of the Procellarum region. This is the region that’s darker, when looking at the moon, and vaguely – according to some – looks like a face, or has the resemblance of a face.

When the researchers were evaluating the data, they found that the rims of the basin – which spans 1,800 miles in diameter, appeared to be more angular than circular. If the crater was created by an asteroid impact, scientists would expect that impact to cause a circular, or at least more round impact zone and edging.

However, it’s actually quite steep and quite angular. The researchers point out that if internal forces did cause the craters on the surface of the moon, in this particular area where it would seem likely – that it would be due to the rolling, cooling, and contracting of magma that originated at the core of the moon.

While a plume of magma would answer one set of questions – with regards to how the craters got there in the first place – it would create hundreds more.

Mainly, how would such a plume of magma get there in the first place? Some of the researchers suggested that radioactive decay of “heat-producing elements” could be the cause, or a large impact on another part of the moon could’ve been the culprit.

Either way, there is no significant data to support that because this was something that was only recently considered. In fact, looking at the sum total of information we have at our disposal – this really introduces more questions than it does to answer any very specifically.

It gives credit to a hypothesis, but it doesn’t answer a question, and scientists agree that more research will be required to go further. But, this is the beginning stages of progress, and it’s progress on a moon that we as humans have had many, many questions about.