News of the WeekPlanetary Science

Lunar Prospector Probes Moon's Core Mysteries

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Science  04 Sep 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5382, pp. 1423-1425
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5382.1423

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Most planetary scientists suspect that far beneath the cold craters and dusty seas of the moon lies an important clue to its fiery past--a dense core. Now the modestly outfitted Lunar Prospector spacecraft has gathered gravitational and magnetic data that offer support to those suspicions and hint at the size of this small metallic nugget. The new findings, presented with other Prospector results on page 1475 of this issue, fit with a theory that the core is the remnant of a violent crash between the infant Earth and a Mars-sized body that spawned the moon 4.5 billion years ago.