Science provides answers to life’s questions until it brings forth other more reliable answers that are substantiated by updated evidence: the theories keep on changing as we make progress towards more sophisticated devices enabling us to dig deeper into the mysteries of our environments. In the light of this ever-changing aspect of science, researchers from the NASA have formulated a new theory for what has long been called the “man in the moon”.
Initially, it was thought that the craters that conferred on our satellite “human facial features” were created by impacts from asteroids onto the moon’s surface. However, recent data obtained from NASA’s spacecrafts showed clearer images of the internal and external structures of the moon. As such, the moon’s craters would have been circular in shape had they been caused by an asteroid. However, the craters were found to be more angular. This newly-discovered defined shape is difficult to attribute to asteroid collisions.
This observation led scientists to speculate that plumes of magma or lava coming out from the moon’s inner layers moulded the angular-shaped plains; this plain of solidified lava is also known as Oceanus Procellarum. Then, as the moon’s crust cooled around the plume of hot magma, the craters were formed as “giant tension cracks”.
So, the “man in the moon” is most likely the result of the moon’s own geological activity.
The new observations also showed anomalies underneath the plains’ basalt surface. It seems that the moon’s crust has stretched and thinned – this is comparable to the moving apart of tectonic plates of the Earth. These rifts in the moon are thought to have been filled with lava later on. The rift zones are not something we are familiar to when it comes to the moon; while we have recorded their occurrences on the Earth, and even on Venus and Mars, we did not spot them on the moon before.