Currently viewing the tag: "Moon"

The commonly accepted theory among scientists concerning Moon formation could be altered by a new study of lunar isotopes. (Variations of elements containing differing amounts of neutrons).

Luna Credit: NASA

Nearly half of the Moon was postulated to be from Theia, a planetary body, thought to have collided with Earth four point five billion years ago. The recent study by Junjun Zhang, an isotope geo-chemist at the Chicago Center for Cosmo-chemistry and his team challenged this premise. Initially, an analysis of twenty-four rocks from the lunar surface revealed a paucity of indications concerning similarities between the Moon and Earth. However, the group failed to consider the effect of cosmic rays, streams of charged particles racing through space. After amending their research on the Moon’s isotopes of titanium, they found its ratio to be in the ballpark of our planet’s chemistry.

The unlikelihood of Theia’s chemistry being nearly identical to the Earth prompted scientists to reconsider their model. They theorized, perhaps the planetary body collided and caused more joining of debris than previously suggested. This could infer, the majority of Theia’s constitution is hidden deep within the Moon, while Earth’s composition lays conspicuously on the surface.

Suggestions of a collision between a dual moon systems arose as well, inferring that one of our past satellites had a chemistry similar to the Earth. Scientists cannot know for sure, whether their ideas are correct or not, they are still theories. However, the research team plans on conducting more experiments on the isotopes of different elements found on the Moon.

You can read more about these findings at http://news.yahoo.com/moon-formation-theory-challenged-study-160608598.html

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NASA’s twin lunar orbiters, GRAIL-A and GAIL-B  (Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory) have successfully entered lunar orbit.

Artist's impression of the twin GRAIL orbiters in lunar orbit Credit: NASA/JPL

The two probes which are designed to precisely map the moon’s gravity field, entered orbit on New Years Eve and New Years Day, with GRAIL-A arriving just ahead of her sister probe.

The twin orbiters were launched on September the 10th 2011, and are expected to commence an 82 day primary science phase in March 2012.  The data from the orbiters should allow scientists to gain a far deeper understanding of the moon’s internal structure by detecting tiny variations in the strength of the moon’s gravity indicating regions of higher and lower density.

The mission is predicted to increase the accuracy of our lunar gravity field maps by somewhere between 100 and 1000 times, exposing features that have currently escaped detection.

The mission is part of NASA’s Discovery program which also includes, Dawn, MESSENGER and Kepler.

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If you are lucky enough to have clear skies tonight you may want to take a look up and admire the Moon and Jupiter tonight.

The two have been close in the sky for a few days allowing for some wonderful shots of both.

The full moon tonight promises to make the spectacle all the more stunning. You can see them throughout the night with the pair at their closest during the early evening GMT.

Luna and Jupiter Credit: Dr. Sammy Clark

They are visible in the eastern sky with Jupiter to the right of the moon (as seen in the Northern hemisphere).

So take a few minutes and look up, if you mange to take a few shots and would like to have them featured here, you can send them to us via www.youngastros@gmail.com or post them on our forum and who knows you might see your image here in the near future.

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