The moon grooves mystery has finally been solved. Billions of years back, a baby planet the size of New Jersey hit the moon and created the strange grooves that scar the lunar surface, according to a new study.
This discovery could tell us more about the violent impact era, in the early stages of Earth formation, when it was bombarded with foreign asteroids and proto-planets, just like the rest of the solar system.
Experts looked at the area around Mare Ibrium – Latin for “The Sea of Showers”. This is a dark spot on the northwest side of the moon or the right eye of the “Man in the Moon”. Mare Ibrium stretches within the Ibrium Basin. Earlier studies have shown that the 720 mile-wide basin was carved by a giant ancient cosmic impact, only to be later filled with lakes of lava which cooled into dark rock.
Mare Ibrium is enclosed by grooves and crevasses big enough to be observed from Earth, even with smaller telescopes. These features, taken together are known as the Ibrium Sculpture. They are found mostly on the Ibrium Basin’s south side.
Other elements of the Ibrium Sculpture resemble spokes on a wheel, as they radiate from the center of the basin. Earlier studies have shown that the Ibrium Sculpture took form because of a giant asteroid collision, around 3.8 billion years back. The asteroid was apparently traveling N-W to the S-E and impacted the moon at an oblique angle, debris spreading along this trajectory.
Aside from the features existent in the Ibrium Basin’s center, prior research discovered yet another set of crevasses in the Ibrium Sculpture that did not spread like the others did. They looked like they came from the North-western region of the basin.
The second bunch of moon grooves was a real mystery, as nobody had any idea where they came from. Now, David Crawford of Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico and his team have come up with an explanation solving the mystery.
Their research suggests that the Ibrium Basin and Sculpture were formed by a huge asteroid, big enough to be considered a proto-planet, or baby planet.
The asteroid may have been about the length of New Jersey. Some of it even continued its trajectory, while most of it has left debris, grooves and crevasses on the surface of the moon.
Image Source – Wikipedia