Scientists study how collisions destroy new planets

(ORDO NEWS) — Every solid body in the solar system is constantly subjected to impacts, both strong and weak. Even on Earth, every point has been affected by at least three major impacts.

Using the moon as a test subject, Associate Professor Brandon Johnson, postdoc Sean Wiggins and their team at Purdue University set out to evaluate the relationship between impacts and planetary porosity.

The researchers used extensive lunar gravity data and detailed modeling and found that large objects colliding with the Moon or any other planetary body can affect surfaces and structures even very far from the point of impact, including deep within the planet or moon itself. The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.

“The NASA GRAIL (Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory) mission measured the Moon’s gravity and showed that the Moon’s crust is very porous,” Johnson said.

“We had no information about how the Moon became like this. This is the first work that really proves that strong impacts can damage the Moon’s crust and make it porous.”

Scientists believe that this study could be useful in studying the early Earth and Mars. If life existed before, and the planet was subjected to such strong influences, then living organisms could survive by hiding in the formed pores and crevices, the depth of which can reach several kilometers.

“These findings are of great importance for future missions to Mars or elsewhere. They can help direct searches, tell us where to look,” Wiggins said.

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