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posted by martyb on Friday October 06, @06:42AM   Printer-friendly
from the prepare-for-a-coverup dept.

Scientists have long assumed that all the planets in our solar system look the same beneath the surface, but a study published in Geology on Oct. 4 tells a different story.

"The mantle of the earth is made mostly of a mineral called olivine, and the assumption is usually that all planets are like the Earth," said Jay Melosh, a professor of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences at Purdue University, who led the study. "But when we look at the spectral signature of rocks exposed deep below the moon's surface, we don't see olivine; we see orthopyroxene."

Around 4 billion years ago, an asteroid collided with the moon and created the largest and deepest impact on the moon: the South Pole-Aitken basin. The collision exposed lunar mantle in the basin and splashed up material onto the far side of the moon.

Melosh's group used remote sensing to identify what minerals compose the splashed-up material. When sunlight hits the moon, it interacts with materials on the surface; because different materials absorb different wavelengths of light, researchers can tell what materials are on the surface by looking at the reflected signal.

Wallace and Gromit will be disappointed to learn it's not Stilton.

South Pole–Aitken basin ejecta reveal the Moon's upper mantle (DOI: 10.1130/G39375.1) (DX)


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  • (Score: 4, Touché) by FatPhil on Friday October 06, @07:37AM (5 children)

    by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Friday October 06, @07:37AM (#577869) Homepage
    > Scientists have long assumed that all the planets in our solar system look the same beneath the surface [...]

    Have they? Why? Given that they look wildly different on the surface, wouldn't Ockham dictate that being different below the surface was more likely? Weren't things like reports of methane-spewing ice volcanos enough of a hint to dispel the myth that the wanderers out there aren't all alike deep down.
    --
    I was worried about my command. I was the scientist of the Holy Ghost.
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  • (Score: 4, Funny) by c0lo on Friday October 06, @07:49AM (2 children)

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Friday October 06, @07:49AM (#577875)

    Journalists have long assumed that scientists have long assumed that all the planets in our solar system look the same beneath the surface [...]

    Now it's a true statement.

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday October 06, @12:06PM (1 child)

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday October 06, @12:06PM (#577957) Journal
      A journalist who needed an engaging lead in assumed...
      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Friday October 06, @12:27PM

        by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Friday October 06, @12:27PM (#577972)

        Thanks for the styling suggestion, sounds better indeed. But...
        If we'd be speaking of a single journalist, I wouldn't mind. Trouble is I'm seeing it frequently enough lately to make a blanket generalization and apologize in the rare cases I'm wrong.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06, @01:05PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06, @01:05PM (#577981)

    Well, according to the summary, one of them is

    Jay Melosh, a professor of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences at Purdue University, who led the study.

    Although I suspect when he said "all planets" he didn't really mean "all planets", as he surely didn't ever consider the interior of Jupiter to be even remotely like the interior of Earth.

    • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Friday October 06, @07:13PM

      by bob_super (1357) on Friday October 06, @07:13PM (#578249)

      It's indeed not absurd that planets which just randomly agglomerated nearby portions of the same primordial disk of matter would have a related composition.
      The disk itself didn't have to be homogeneous, but it's quite likely that it was locally consistent in its composition.