Lunar Surface - Internal Structure of The Moon

Internal Structure of The Moon

The current model of the interior of the Moon was derived using seismometers left behind during the manned Apollo program missions, as well as investigations of the Moon's gravity field and rotation.

The mass of the Moon is sufficient to eliminate any voids within the interior, so it is believed to be composed of solid rock throughout. Its low bulk density (~3346 kg m−3) indicates a low metal abundance. Mass and moment of inertia constraints indicate that the Moon likely has an iron core that is less than about 450 km in radius. Studies of the Moon's physical librations (small perturbations to its rotation) furthermore indicate that the core is still molten. Most planetary bodies and moons have iron cores that are about half the size of the body. The Moon is thus anomalous in possessing a core whose size is only about one quarter of its radius.

The crust of the Moon is on average about 50 km thick (though this is uncertain by about ±15 km). It is widely believed that the far-side crust is on average thicker than the near side by about 15 km. Seismology has constrained the thickness of the crust only near the Apollo 12 and 14 landing sites. While the initial Apollo-era analyses suggested a crustal thickness of about 60 km at this site, recent reanalyses of this data set suggest a thinner value, somewhere between about 30 and 45 km.

Compared to that of Earth, the Moon has only a very weak external magnetic field. Other major differences are that the Moon does not currently have a dipolar magnetic field (as would be generated by a geodynamo in its core), and the magnetizations that are present are almost entirely crustal in origin. One hypothesis holds that the crustal magnetizations were acquired early in lunar history when a geodynamo was still operating. The small size of the lunar core, however, is a potential obstacle to this hypothesis. Alternatively, it is possible that on airless bodies such as the Moon, transient magnetic fields could be generated during impact processes. In support of this, it has been noted that the largest crustal magnetizations appear to be located near the antipodes of the largest impact basins. While the Moon does not possess a dipolar magnetic field like the Earth does, some of the returned rocks possess strong magnetizations. Furthermore measurements from orbit show that some portions of the lunar surface are associated with strong magnetic fields.

Read more about this topic:  Lunar Surface

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