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Moon may be 200 million years younger than thought

A rock thought to date from the moon's formation points to the satellite being about 200 million years younger than previously calculated, suggesting its history may need to be rewritten.
But measuring the age of lunar plagioclase, samples of which were collected by Apollo astronauts, is fraught with uncertainty. The rocks contain only tiny amounts of the lead isotopes normally used to date rocks and are contaminated with lead dust from Earth.
Now Lars Borg at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and colleagues have re-dated one of the rocks after washing it with a weak acid to remove the surface layer and any lead contamination. They were surprised to find it was just 4.36 billion years old, meaning it formed about 200 million years after the solar system's first solid materials.

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Title: Planetary Science by the NLSI LUNAR Team: The Lunar Core, Ionized Atmosphere, & Nanodust Weathering
Authors: Jack Burns (1), Joseph Lazio (2), for the NLSI LUNAR Team ((1) University of Colorado Boulder, (2) JPL)

The Lunar University Network for Astrophysics Research (LUNAR) undertakes investigations across the full spectrum of science within the mission of the NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI), namely science of, on, and from the Moon. The LUNAR team's work on science of and on the Moon, which is the subject of this white paper, is conducted in the broader context of ascertaining the content, origin, and evolution of the solar system.

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Earth May Not Have Needed Moon for Life

Scientists have long believed that without the moon's stabilising gravitational influence, variations in Earth's tilt would have caused climate change too dynamic for complex life to evolve. Not so, concludes a new study that has implications for understanding conditions for life elsewhere in the solar system.
The study sprang from the ongoing Kepler Telescope mission to find Earth-like planets circling in habitable zones around other stars in the Milky Way.

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Two moons above Earth may have collided to create one, study says

Once upon a time, the sky above Earth may have held two moons - until they smashed into each other to create the lunar body we know today. Such a collision early in the solar system's history could explain why the moon is lopsided, and why its far side looks so different from the face we can see, according to a report in Thursday's edition of the journal Nature.
Round as it may seem from our vantage point, the moon in fact bulges on one side: the far side, which is packed with high, jagged mountains. That's a more severe surface than the smooth side we see, filled with basins of volcanic rock.

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Moon's Rough 'Wrinkles' Reveal Clues To Its Past

Written on the moon's weary face are the damages it has endured for the past 4 billion years. From impact craters to the dark plains of maria left behind by volcanic eruptions, the scars are all that remain to tell the tale of what happened to the moon. But they only hint at the processes that once acted - and act today - to shape the surface.
To get more insight into those processes, Meg Rosenburg and her colleagues at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif. put together the first comprehensive set of maps revealing the slopes and roughness of the moon's surface. These maps are based on detailed data collected by the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) on NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. LOLA and LRO were built at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

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LROC images beautiful ejecta pattern

946.png
Fresh ejecta blanket of an unnamed 1 km diameter crater. Image number M154813223R, incidence angle 13, image is 750 meters across [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

This small crater displays a beautiful ejecta pattern resembling a starburst. Looking at this image you can almost imagine the shower of ejecta falling to the ground. The pattern formed out of high and low reflectance areas is due to the freshness of the ejecta.
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A new topographic map of the moon will be released later this year, but a sneak-peek is available now.

Because the moon is tidally locked (meaning the same side always faces Earth), it was not until 1959 that the farside was first imaged by the Soviet Luna 3 spacecraft (hence the Russian names for prominent farside features, such as Mare Moscoviense). And what a surprise - unlike the widespread maria on the nearside, basaltic volcanism was restricted to a relatively few, smaller regions on the farside, and the battered highlands crust dominated. A different world from what we saw from Earth.
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Zoom in on the moon: Astronomers create most detailed lunar landscape images ever seen

Astronomers have created the sharpest pictures yet of the moon which allow the armchair amateur to zoom in to incredible levels of detail.
The giant photo lets you focus in on craters and cracks on the surface as if they were right in front of you - even though they are 240,000 miles away.

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The Moon in 3D

Put on your 3D glasses and look at this stereo image of the Moon!



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NASA's LRO Creating Unprecedented Topographic Map of Moon

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is allowing researchers to create the most precise and complete map to date of the moon's complex, heavily cratered landscape.
The Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) works by propagating a single laser pulse through a Diffractive Optical Element that splits it into five beams. These beams then strike and are backscattered from the lunar surface. From the return pulse, the LOLA electronics determines the time of flight which, accounting for the speed of light, provides a precise measurement of the range from the spacecraft to the lunar surface. Range measurements, combined with accurate tracking of the spacecraft's location, are used to build a map revealing the contours of the lunar landscape. The five beams create a two-dimensional spot pattern that unambiguously reveals slopes. LOLA will also measure the spreading of the return pulse to get the surface roughness and the change in the transmitted compared to the return energy of the pulse to determine surface reflectance.
The new LOLA maps are more accurate and sample more places on the lunar surface than any available before.

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