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An anomaly on the moon. An uncovered blob of heat could feed the volcanoes

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A huge “blob” of heat has been discovered on the dark side of the Moon. Scientists suspect that the source of the anomaly is a piece of granite hidden under the surface of our satellite. This rock, common on Earth, is rarely found elsewhere in the solar system. And for good reason.

The reverse side of the Moon, also called the dark side, the one not visible from Earth, holds many mysteries. Although we know what it looks like, data from some observations can still surprise scientists. One such anomaly was described in the scientific journal “Nature”.

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A thermal puzzle

A team of American scientists analyzed data from the Chinese Chang’E-1 and Chang’E-2 probes, which measured microwave radiation on the far side of the Moon. Near the North Pole, measuring instruments have registered a thermal anomaly – a large “blot”, about 20 times warmer than the surrounding rocks.

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– This meant that this point was hot, not necessarily on the surface, but perhaps below it. The only explanation for this phenomenon was heat coming from deeper layers of the lunar crust, explained the study’s lead author Matthew Siegler of Southern Methodist University in Texas.

The analysis showed that the heat came from radioactive elements, which on the moon are only found in the company of granite. Rock is common on Earth and requires water and tectonic movements to form. However, these factors are absent on the Moon, making granites extremely rare there.

Visualization of the “dark side” of the Moon made on the basis of data from the LRO probeNASA Scientific Visualization Studio

An ancient blot

The “spot” discovered beneath the Moon’s surface is likely to have been formed by the cooling of lava that fed volcanoes that were active shortly after the Moon formed, even 3.5 billion years ago. Such a formation of solidified lava that never erupted is known as a batholith. In Poland, they occur in the Karkonosze and Tatra Mountains high.

“Every large lump of granite we find on Earth once fed a large group of volcanoes,” Siegler explained. – Batholiths are much larger than the volcanoes they feed. It is, for example, the Sierra Nevada mountains, a remnant of an ancient volcanic chain.

The lunar batholith is located in a region of the Moon previously identified as volcanic. However, scientists were surprised by the size of the “blot” – it can be up to 50 kilometers in diameter. Finding this huge block of granite could help scientists better understand our satellite’s ancient history.

“If there is no water, extreme conditions are needed to form granite,” Siegler said. – Here we have a system without water and without plate tectonics, but with granite. Does this mean that there was water on the moon, at least in this place? Or was it just particularly hot there? the scientist wondered.

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Main photo source: NASA Scientific Visualization Studio



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