Scientists in search of lunar mantle

As NASA prepares for future lunar missions, especially with the Artemis program, which aims to send humans to lunar soil by 2024, scientists are wondering: Which areas are likely to have the most informed scientists. ? Because if multiple sample collections are planned, it remains to be determined where to take them…

Currently, no fragment of the lunar system is part of the thousands of samples taken during the various Apollo missions. However, they may contain precious elements of our satellite’s history. That’s why a NASA team led by Daniel P. Moriarty looked at lunar mapping: What would be the likely locations of the lunar mantle on their surface? The findings of their research have been published in the journals nature communication 3 August 2021 and Geophysical Research Journal in January 2021.

Many models of lunar formation already exist, especially thanks to collected samples and remote sensing data. Thus the contribution that the precise composition of the lunar mantle would provide would make it possible to validate the scenarios of its formation or not. Among them, the dominant hypothesis is that of the giant impact, which holds that a planetary body the size of Mars, called Thelia, may have struck Earth in its youth. Then the collision would have vaporized Theia, as well as the first layer of Earth’s soil, namely its crust and its crust. These ejected elements would either be distributed to form the Moon, or by gravity returning to Earth.

But studies have shown that lunar soil is richer in metals than the upper layers of Earth’s soil, contradicting the giant impact hypothesis. Several hypotheses have attempted to address this paradox by either assuming multiple impacts, or by a much stronger effect than initially expected, which may occur in the deeper layers of the Earth, more metallic, or even the Moon than Earth. will be old.

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