The moon still surprises researchers even if it has been the first celestial body studied by them.
(Mirror Daily, United States) – According to the latest research, the lunar axis shifted billions of years ago, three to be more exact. The imaginary line was moved by six degrees, making the “man on the moon figure” change its position. And even though the lunar axis shifted billions of years ago, the scientists were still able to find evidence of the change today.
Matthew Siegler of Southern Methodist and a couple of his colleagues analyzed the data gathered by NASA on the levels of polar hydrogen present on the surface of the moon. The gas is believed to freeze in north and south pole craters that are protected from sun rays.
But the ice craters are not aligned with the poles, and this led the scientists to believe that the lunar axis shifted billions of years ago. Their theory is also supported by the fact that the curious offset presents itself in the same manner at both poles, but they are also tilted in opposite directions.
Siegler believes that the change probably occurred around three billion years ago, and it lasted for one billion years. The shift made “the man on the moon” to change positions, turning his nose towards our planet as the axis moved.
And the phenomenon is not that common. A polar relocation is a rare occurrence and astronomers only detected the phenomenon on Mars, Earth, Europa (one of Jupiter’s satellites) and Enceladus (Saturn’s satellite).
The strange shift usually happens when there is a significant change in the moon’s or planet’s mass. Siegler’s team believes that volcanic activity was the reason behind the changes. Violent eruptions changed the mass distribution in the equator and the poles, causes the axis to tilt.
This means that the ancient volcanoes that were active on the moon’s surface billions of years ago melted a significant part of the mantle and formed the dark patches that can be seen with the naked eye at night.
Due to the fact that Earth’s satellite has only a single region of crust, the Procellarum, the moon shifted its position after the mantle was melted and the mass was modified.
And the lunar ice could also be the answer to another question that has been tormenting astronomers for a long period of time. The formations could explain the presence of water on both Earth and its natural satellite.
Further analysis could show whether or not the water from the two celestial bodies originated from a single source.
Image source: Wikimedia