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
Featured UPI Collection
Celebrity Couples of 2014 [PHOTOS]

Celebrity Couples of 2014 [PHOTOS]

Most Popular
Tropical storm Karina looks like the number 9 from space
Study explains why ER nurses do what they do
Neanderthals and humans interacted for thousands of years
Researchers dig up earliest evidence of snail-eating
Tech industry All Stars developing 'Star Trek'-style communication badges
Trending News