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In the lithosphere of Earth’s satellite: Russian scientists have determined the temperature of the Moon’s heating at the dawn of its formation

Photo by eberhard 🖐 grossgasteiger on Unsplash

Scientists from the E.M. Galimov Laboratory of Carbon Geochemistry at the Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry (GEOKhI) RAS found that in the first billion years of its existence, the Moon could heat up to at least +100 °С. This was reported to by the press service of the institute. The study was carried out with the financial support of the Russian Science Foundation. The results were published in the journal Reports of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The fact that the moon was heating up at the initial stages of its history has been revealed by the scientists in 2012 during the study of the natural satellite by NASA Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL). The fractures, which date back to the early days of the Moon’s formation, have not disappeared even after billions of years of asteroid bombardment of the lunar surface. Specialists believe that their depth reaches the lower layers of the crust or even the mantle.

The researchers from GEOKhI RAS used a specially created physical and mathematical model for the calculations. They used it to determine the temperature sufficient to stretch the lunar lithosphere and form deep fractures.

“Based on the exact solutions possible in the spherically symmetric formulation of the thermal conductivity problem, a qualitatively correct temporal behavior of temperature and stresses was obtained, consistent with the geological data,” Sergei Voropaev, a candidate of physical and mathematical sciences and senior researcher at the Carbon Geochemistry Laboratory of GEOKHI RAS, explained .

The heating of the Earth satellite’s surface was due to the decay of radioactive isotopes of uranium and thorium, as well as the radioactive isotope of potassium, which were present in the lithosphere of the young Moon.

Specialists note that volatile compounds and water have been rising from the lunar interior to the surface through faults for a long time. These substances accumulated in the regolith near the faults, and the researchers do not exclude the possibility that in the future it could play an important role in themining lunar resources.

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