Most accurate gravity map shows Moon is battered
Washington: Twin NASA probes orbiting the Moon have generated the highest-ever resolution gravity field map of any celestial body, showing a record of billions of years of battering of the lunar surface.
The gravity field map reveals an abundance of features never before seen in detail, such as tectonic structures, volcanic landforms, basin rings, crater central peaks, and numerous simple, bowl-shaped craters.
Data also show the Moon's gravity field is unlike that of any terrestrial planet in our solar system, NASA said.
The new map, created by the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission, is allowing scientists to learn about the Moon's internal structure and composition in unprecedented detail.
Data from the two washing machine-sized spacecraft also will provide a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed and evolved.
"What this map tells us is that more than any other celestial body we know of, the Moon wears its gravity field on its sleeve," said GRAIL principal investigator Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.