facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Period of strong moon impacts studied

Feb. 28, 2012 at 5:23 PM   |   Comments

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif., Feb. 28 (UPI) -- The moon, hit by asteroids throughout its lifetime, saw a strong increase in the energy and speed of incoming rocks 4 billion years ago, U.S. researchers say.

Scientists the NASA Lunar Science Institute in California said the history of crater formation on the moon, analyzed using digital maps, reveals a significant rise in the velocity and energy of the cosmic onslaught during a period dubbed the "lunar cataclysm" around 4 billion years ago, SPACE.com reported Tuesday.

Researchers said it was possible the timing of this change could coincide with disturbances in the solar system's main asteroid belt following changes in the movement of the outer planets.

The speeds of incoming asteroids during the lunar cataclysm were likely increased by the movement of Jupiter and the other outer solar system planets, they said.

"It is fascinating that the surface of our own moon records evidence of orbital changes in Jupiter and Saturn that took place so long ago," Yvonne Pendleton, director of the institute, said in a statement.

The reorganization of the outer planets could have dislodged objects in the main asteroid belt and thrown them into the inner solar system, researchers said.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Recommended UPI Stories
Most Popular
1
Climate change, sea level rise threaten national monuments Climate change, sea level rise threaten national monuments
2
Martian meteorite proof that Mars could host life Martian meteorite proof that Mars could host life
3
Study: Chimps are natural born killers Study: Chimps are natural born killers
4
Say goodbye to Chinese sturgeon Say goodbye to Chinese sturgeon
5
Audi gets permit to test self-driving cars in California Audi gets permit to test self-driving cars in California
Trending News
Video
x
Feedback