An asteroid strike did THIS to our Moon; know what could have happened to Earth

    The far side of the Moon is filled with many massive craters caused by a huge collision with an asteroid. Know the reason and how the Earth could have been impacted by an asteroid strike.
    By: HT TECH
    | Updated on: Apr 13 2022, 11:23 IST
    Billions of years ago a massive asteroid struck the Moon and caused massive craters on the far side. But the Earth could have faced a disaster too. Know how.
    Billions of years ago a massive asteroid struck the Moon and caused massive craters on the far side. But the Earth could have faced a disaster too. Know how. (AFP)
    Billions of years ago a massive asteroid struck the Moon and caused massive craters on the far side. But the Earth could have faced a disaster too. Know how.
    Billions of years ago a massive asteroid struck the Moon and caused massive craters on the far side. But the Earth could have faced a disaster too. Know how. (AFP)

    Ever since humanity first landed on the lunar surface, we have been aware about this anomaly- the Moon has two faces. The near side of the Moon, which is visible to Earth at all times, has dark patches and barely a few pits on its surface and it shines bright at night. But the far side of the Moon is littered with impact craters and is void of any dark patches. The reason for these craters are obvious. Numerous asteroids have struck the surface of the Moon over billions of years and have caused these pits, 9000 counted so far, on the surface of the Moon. What is not obvious is why are there so few craters visible on the near side? This question had puzzled scientists for ages. But finally, they have unraveled the mystery. Read on to find out.

    The puzzle of the dark side of the Moon

    The question of uneven crater marks on the two hemispheres of the Moon has been described as “one of the most significant questions in lunar science”, according to a study that has finally uncovered the truth. Around 4.3 billion years ago, the Moon suffered a massive asteroid strike. This collision created the South Pole–Aitken basin (SPA). SPA is the largest crater on the Moon with a maximum width of 2,574 kilometers and a maximum depth of 8.2 km. And now it appears that this collision was the reason behind the uneven sides of the Moon.

    After the asteroid strike on SPA, a unique phenomenon took place inside the Moon's mantle. The Moon had a layer of Magma right underneath the crust on the near side of the Moon. So, once the asteroid struck the Moon, the magma spilled out and covered the surface of the near side. Today, we know it as the lunar maria, solid lava that covers the near side. This lava covered up many of the craters on the near side of the Moon and gives it an appearance of a smoother surface.

    How the Earth could have been impacted by these asteroid strikes

    While that explains the duality of the lunar surfaces, how is the Earth involved? It appears that Moon's presence has helped the Earth survive many such fatal blows from asteroids, including the one that resulted in the SPA phenomenon. A majority of these asteroid strikes took place in the formative years of the Earth's atmosphere, so the asteroids could have easily struck the Earth. A large enough asteroid had the potential of permanently altering the surface and climate of our planet. But because the Moon soaked up a lot of these collisions, the Earth had an easier time developing into what it is today.

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    First Published Date: 13 Apr, 11:23 IST
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