Researchers discover how impact causes a new planet to ‘break up’

Researchers discover how impact causes a new planet to 'break up'

Brandon Johnson, an expert in impact crater dynamics, is surrounded by some of his favorite research topics: Mercury, Mars, and the Moon. credit: Purdue University / Rebecca McCullough Photo

The harder you hit something—a ball, nut, or geode—the more likely you are to break it. Or, if it doesn’t break, it’s likely to lose at least its structural integrity, as happens with a new baseball glove when players hit it to make it softer and more flexible. Cracks – big or small – do form and are a silent and permanent witness to their impact.

Planets including Brandon Johnson, associate professor, and postdoctoral researcher Sean Wiggins in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at Purdue University, studied how these impacts affect planetary bodies, asteroids, moons, and other rocks in outer space. Scientists get help. The School of Science understands the geology of the outer planets, especially where they look for valuable material, including water, ice and even potential microbial life.

Every solid object in the solar system experiences constant tremors, big or small. Even on Earth, every place is affected by at least three major influences. Using the Moon as a test subject, Johnson and Wiggins and their team set out to determine the relationship between the impact and the porosity of the planets.

The researchers used extensive lunar gravity data and detailed modeling and found that when large objects collide with the Moon or other planetary bodies, these impacts can affect the surface and composition, even from the point of impact and Even in the depths of the planet or the moon. yourself. , These findings are detailed in their new study, published in the journal nature communicationExplain the data on the Moon that astounds scientists.

“The NASA GRAIL (Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory) mission measured the Moon’s gravity and showed that the Moon’s crust is porous to great depths,” Johnson said. “We don’t have details of how the Moon would be so porous. This is actually the first work to show that a large collision was able to destroy the Moon’s crust and enter this hole.”

new planets attack

The Lunar Mare Orientale is a crater about 3.9 billion years old and about 1,000 kilometers in diameter. It is one of several large basins that account for most of the porosity of the Moon’s crust. credit: NASA

Understanding where the planets and moons fell, and why, could help guide space exploration and tell scientists the best places to look for life. Wherever rock, water and air meet and interact, there is potential for life.

“There are a lot of things that get us excited,” Wiggins said. “Our data sheds light on a mystery. This research has implications for early Earth and Mars. If life existed at that time, there would have been massive and unrelated impacts that would have sterilized the planet and boiled the oceans. But If you have life, it can. Survive in holes and crevices. A few hundred feet or even miles away, they can survive. They can provide a sanctuary where this type of animal life can hide . influence.

“These findings have great potential to guide future missions to Mars or elsewhere. They could help guide discovery, and tell us where to look.”

Porosity of Moon’s crust reveals history of bombardment

further information:

Sean E. Wiggins et al, Mass Effect Porosity in the Early Planetary Crust, nature communication (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-32445-3

Purdue University

Citation: Researchers Discover How New Planet Impact ‘Breaks’ (2022, August 17) Retrieved on August 17, 2022 from

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