The ancient moon may have had a gooey interior: A new study suggests that some 4 billion years ago, Earth’s beloved satellite harbored a secret subsurface ocean of magma.
The churning of this molten ocean may have created a magnetic field similar to the one that protects Earth from charged space particles today. Measurements of moon rocks brought back by the Apollo astronauts in the 1960s and 1970s prove that the moon once had a strong magnetic field above its surface, but how the satellite managed to sustain this field is a complete mystery.
“We’re trying to understand what could cause this really strong magnetic field,” said Krista Soderlund, a planetary scientist at the University of Texas at Austin and a co-author of the new study.
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