(This passage was excerpted from material published in 1996.)
When a large body strikes a planet or moon, material is ejected, thereby creating a hole in the planet and a localdeficit of mass. This deficit shows up as a gravity anomaly: the removal of the material that has been ejected to make the hole results in an area of slightly lower gravity than surrounding areas. One would therefore expect that all of the large multi-ring impact basins on the surface of Earth's Moon would show such negative gravity anomalies, since they are, essentially, large holes in the lunar surface. Yet data collected in 1994 by the Clementine spacecraft show that many of these lunar basins have no anomalously low gravity and some even have anomalously high gravity. Scientists speculate that early in lunar history, when large impactors struck the Moon's surface, causing millions of cubic kilometers of crustal debris to be ejected, denser material from the Moon's mantle rose up beneath the impactors almost immediately, compensating for the ejected material and thus leaving no low gravity anomaly in the resulting basin. Later, however, as the Moon grew cooler and less elastic, rebound from large impactors would have been only partial and incomplete. Thus today such gravitational compensation probably would not occur: the outer layer of the Moon is too cold and stiff.
The passage is primarily concerned with
- Aanalyzing data from a 1994 exploration of the lunar surface
- Breconciling two opposing theories about the origin of lunar impact basins
- Cpresenting a possible explanation of a puzzling finding about lunar impact basins
- Ddiscussing how impact basins on the Moon's surface are formed
- Eexamining the claim that the Moon's Impact basins show negative gravity anomalies