Science/Tech

Searching For Earth's Beginning Beneath The Moonscape

We all know that the Earth and the Moon are connected. As our only natural satellite, the Moon is responsible for many naturally occurring phenomena in our planet, like the rise and fall of our ocean tides. Per theories, the Moon itself is made from the remnants of a collision between early Earth and another planetary body some 4.5 billion years ago.

However, Earth’s gravitational relationship with the Moon isn’t the only thing connecting one with the other since scientists believe that digging under the satellite’s rocky soil would uncover some mysteries about our own planet, ones that have eluded us since the first Moon mission.

Mysteries underneath the moonscape

Per theories, the moon was made from a collision that happened 4.5 billion years ago. However, Earth’s oldest rocks date to only 4 billion years, leaving a 500 million-year gap. Scientists believe that the moon can help fill in that gap.

"A lot of that half billion years that we're missing probably exists on the moon in some form,"  said Bill Bottke, at the Department of Space Studies in Boulder's Southwest Research Institute. "This gives us the opportunity, by understanding the moon, to understand all these other worlds as well. This bombardment that's happening to the early moon...it's happening to all the planets,” he added.

A team from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh plans on doing this by studying a network of “lava tunnels” underneath the Moon’s surface. According to the team, these elaborate tunnels may still hold untouched materials from the Moon’s early years, meaning remnants of early Earth might be present as well.

The team is led by William Whittaker, a researcher at Carnegie Mellon. By July 2021, one of his rovers will be landing on the Moon as part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services. The same program will also be setting the stage for a lunar base by bringing other instruments that will be used to better understand the Moon. The lunar base in turn, will be in preparation for NASA’s plan to eventually send back astronauts on the Moon by the year 2024.

moon-1527501_960_720 A photo of Earth's moon. Photo by Pixabay (CC0)

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