Moon has liquid core just like Earth

January 8th, 2011 - 6:57 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 8 (IANS) The Moon has a liquid core similar to Earth’s, a study has found.It came to light when scientists used contemporary techniques to study the signals from the seismic sensors left on the lunar surface by Apollo astronauts in 1971, Daily Mail reported Friday.

Scientists at NASA applied contemporary seismological techniques to the data being emitted from sensors placed by their colleagues during the US space programme’s heyday, it said.

The new research suggests the Moon possesses a solid, iron-rich inner core with a radius of nearly 150 miles and a fluid, primarily liquid-iron outer core with a radius of roughly 205 miles.

Where it differs from Earth is a partially molten boundary layer around the core estimated to have a radius of nearly 300 miles, the Mail said citing the study.

The data sheds light on the evolution of a lunar dynamo - a natural process by which our Moon may have generated and maintained its own strong magnetic field.

Uncovering details about the lunar core is critical for developing accurate models of the Moon’s formation.

The core contains a small percentage of light elements such as sulphur, echoing new seismology research on Earth that suggests the presence of light elements - such as sulphur and oxygen - in a layer around our own core.

The research, published in the online edition of journal Science, used extensive data gathered during the Apollo-era Moon missions.

The Apollo Passive Seismic Experiment consisted of four seismometers deployed between 1969 and 1972, which recorded continuous lunar seismic activity until late 1977.

Future NASA missions will help gather more detailed data. The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, or GRAIL, is a NASA Discovery-class mission set to launch this year.

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