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It’s Official: Scientists Confirm What’s Inside The Moon

Well, the verdict is in. The Moon is not made of green cheese after all.

A thorough investigation published back in May has found that the inner core of the Moon is, in fact, a solid ball with a density similar to that of iron. This, researchers hope, will help settle a long debate about whether the Moon’s inner heart is solid or molten, and lead to a more accurate understanding of the Moon’s history – and, by extension, that of the Solar System.has a density of about 7,822 kilograms per cubic meter. That’s very close to the density of iron.

Curiously, in 2011 a team led by NASA Marshall planetary scientist Renee Weber found a similar result using what were then state-of-the-art seismological techniques on Apollo data to study the lunar core. They found evidence of a solid inner core with a radius of about 240 kilometers, and a density about 8,000 kilograms per cubic meter.

Their results, Briaud and his team say, is confirmation of those earlier findings, and constitute a pretty strong case for an Earth-like lunar core. And this has some interesting implications for the Moon’s evolution.

We know not long after it formed, the Moon had a powerful magnetic field, which started to decline about 3.2 billion years ago. Such a magnetic field is generated by motion and convection in the core, so what the lunar core is made of is deeply relevant to how and why the magnetic field disappeared.

Given humanity’s hope to return to the Moon in relatively short order, perhaps we won’t have long to wait for seismic verification of these findings.

The research has been published in Nature.

A version of this article was first published in May 2023.

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