Moon 'broken up and shattered'

  • Updated: December 8, 2012 - 4:34 PM
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Fireworks are seen against the full moon during a Fourth of July celebration this year.

Photo: Charlie Riedel, Associated Press - Ap

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The moon took a beating in its early days, more than previously believed, scientists reported in the journal Science. This surprising new view comes from detailed gravity mapping by twin NASA spacecraft, called Ebb and Flow, which slipped into orbit around the celestial body earlier this year to peer into the interior. Researchers have long known that the moon and rocky planets -- including the Earth -- suffered heavy bombardment from asteroids and comets during their formative years billions of years ago. Now they are just starting to realize the extent. The moon is "far more broken up and shattered than we've seen before," said mission chief scientist Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Measurements also found that the moon's crust, or outermost layer, is much thinner than scientists thought -- only about 25 miles thick. AP
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