Probes unveil three hidden blemishes on moon’s face

GRAIL moon map

Maps of the moon generated from gravity data gathered by the GRAIL spacecraft include three previously undiscovered lunar basins, Bartels-Voskresenskiy, Copernicus-H and Asperitatis.

G.A. Neumann et al/Science Advances 2015 (CC BY-NC)

Gravitational tugs on a pair of spacecraft have revealed previously unseen blemishes on the moon’s face.

Evidence of three basins — Asperitatis, Bartels-Voskresenskiy, and Copernicus-H — comes from gravity data collected by NASA’s GRAIL mission in 2012 and provides a clearer picture of circular dents on the moon’s surface formed by impact craters. These basins are often obscured by subsequent impacts and volcanic activity from the moon’s active youth. Researchers report the previously hidden features online October 30 in Science Advances.

The size and distribution of these and other lunar craters spotted by GRAIL cast further doubts that space rocks from the main asteroid belt pummeled the Earth and moon around 4 billion years ago, the researchers say, a salvo nicknamed the Late Heavy Bombardment.

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