Unveiling the Mystery of the Moon’s Inner Core

Unveiling the Mystery of the Moon’s Inner Core

In a groundbreaking study published in May 2023, researchers have finally debunked the age-old myth that the Moon is made of green cheese. Instead, they have revealed that the Moon’s inner core is actually a solid sphere with a density comparable to that of iron. This discovery not only settles the debate regarding the state of the Moon’s inner core but also provides valuable insights into the history of the Moon and the entire Solar System.

The investigation into the Moon’s inner core composition was made possible through seismic data analysis. By studying how acoustic waves generated by quakes travel through and bounce off materials inside the Moon, scientists were able to create a detailed map of its interior structure. While previous data from the Apollo missions hinted at the presence of a fluid outer core, the exact nature of the inner core remained uncertain. To resolve this ambiguity, astronomer Arthur Briaud and his team gathered data from various space missions and laser ranging experiments to construct a comprehensive profile of the Moon’s characteristics.

Revelations from the Study

The team’s findings shed light on several key aspects of the Moon’s composition. They discovered that active overturning occurs deep within the lunar mantle, with denser materials descending towards the core and less dense materials rising towards the surface. This mechanism helps explain the distribution of certain elements in lunar volcanic regions and supports the presence of a solid inner core along with a fluid outer core, similar to Earth’s structure.

According to the modeling results, the lunar core consists of an outer fluid layer with a radius of approximately 362 kilometers and an inner solid core with a radius of about 258 kilometers. The inner core’s density was estimated to be around 7,822 kilograms per cubic meter, closely resembling the density of iron. Interestingly, previous research conducted in 2011 by NASA Marshall’s planetary scientist Renee Weber had also indicated the presence of a solid inner core with comparable characteristics, further reinforcing the current findings.

The revelation of the Moon’s Earth-like core has significant implications for understanding its evolution over time. The Moon’s magnetic field, which existed shortly after its formation but started declining around 3.2 billion years ago, is directly influenced by the composition of its core. The motion and convection within the core are responsible for generating the magnetic field, making it crucial to unravel the specifics of the core’s structure to comprehend the magnetic field’s disappearance.

With plans for human return missions to the Moon on the horizon, the prospect of confirming these findings through seismic observations offers an exciting opportunity to further explore and unravel the mysteries of our closest celestial neighbor. As we continue to delve deeper into the Moon’s geological secrets, the discovery of its solid inner core stands as a testament to the ongoing scientific advancements that bring us closer to understanding the complexities of the lunar world.


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