Gravity Field of the Moon from the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) Mission

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Science  08 Feb 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6120, pp. 668-671
DOI: 10.1126/science.1231507

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The Holy GRAIL?

The gravity field of a planet provides a view of its interior and thermal history by revealing areas of different density. GRAIL, a pair of satellites that act as a highly sensitive gravimeter, began mapping the Moon's gravity in early 2012. Three papers highlight some of the results from the primary mission. Zuber et al. (p. 668, published online 6 December) discuss the overall gravity field, which reveals several new tectonic and geologic features of the Moon. Impacts have worked to homogenize the density structure of the Moon's upper crust while fracturing it extensively. Wieczorek et al. (p. 671, published online 6 December) show that the upper crust is 35 to 40 kilometers thick and less dense—and thus more porous—than previously thought. Finally, Andrews-Hanna et al. (p. 675, published online 6 December) show that the crust is cut by widespread magmatic dikes that may reflect a period of expansion early in the Moon's history.