back to article The Moon certainly ain't made of cheese but it may be made of more metal than previously thought, sensor shows

The latest measurements from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) suggest the Moon contains more metal than previously thought. The result goes against a widely accepted theory that our home world's natural satellite was born from a cataclysmic collision between a protoplanet named Theia and a young Earth some 4.5 billion …

  1. TDog


    We know the volume; we know the mass; thus we know the density. As a general rule metals --> more dense than non metals. So does this imply that the moon is a bit like Thompson's Plum Pudding model of the atom? If the data is correct it would appear to suggest that there are sort of submerged pimples of dense metallic mass.

    One thing not made clear is how deep the dialetric effect could measure to.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Density

      We know the average density. That value can vary from place to place, just as there are places on Earth that are slightly more/less dense than the average.

    2. Mike Richards

      Re: Density

      The Moon appears to have an iron-rich core, but we're not sure exactly how big. There is very limited seismic data from the Apollo missions in part because the Moon isn't very active and partly because we didn't crash nearly enough Saturn V third stages into the Moon. So not many earthquake waves have ever been recorded passing through the deep lunar interior - which appears to be very weird and sort of slushy deep down (stop me if I get too technical).

      In 2010, a paper* reprocessed the Apollo data and suggest the Moon has a solid core with a radius of 330km +/- 20km. The mass of this core is uncertain because its composition is also unclear, but the usual iron-nickel alloy seems likely with up to 6% dissolved sulfur by weight.

      * Weber, R. C.; Lin, P.-Y.; Garnero, E. J.; Williams, Q.; Lognonne, P. (2011). "Seismic Detection of the Lunar Core" (PDF). Science. 331 (6015): 309–312.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Density


        The Moon is made of cheese. It’s got lumpy bits in it, which are cracker crumbs from careless Clangers. And it has a liquid core of finest port. All NASA need to provide is space chutney. Although my perfect cheeseboard also has mulled wine soaked apple slices. So hopefully there’s room in the spacecraft for them too.

      2. Trigonoceps occipitalis

        Re: Density

        "The Moon appears to have an iron-rich core ... "

        They've found the Soup Dragon's cauldron!

        1. hplasm

          Re: Density

          Two Words - "Iron Sky"

          'Tis a dicumentary!

      3. JCitizen

        @Mike Richards..

        I see they found the craters to those experiments with the Saturn debris in 2016 - they didn't make much a a crater despite moving fairly fast!

  2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Funny you should say that...

    Since the original Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter of the 1960's probe operators have detected orbital anomalies which indicates "mass concentrations" below the surface.

    So what could another name for a "Masscon" be?

    An ore body of course. And this instrument can give us some of that bodies electrical properties as well.

    Thumbs up to the team. They seem to have built it to confirm a theory, but the theory is not confirmed. They have new facts and new questions to ask.

    Exciting times.

    1. Mike Richards

      Re: Funny you should say that...

      Most lunar mascons are caused by thick deposits of relatively-dense basaltic lavas erupted during crater forming episodes rather than ore bodies.

      1. Francis Boyle

        An hypothesis

        that may now have to be reconsidered.

  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    But nobody has yet reported

    that they've found the Tycho Magnetic Anomaly?

    1. Amos
      Black Helicopters

      Re: But nobody has yet reported

      That comes after the space station and base are built and operational.

  4. Grikath


    The Moon may have had overall less metal per olympic-sized swimming pool when she formed, but we also know quite a lot of that did never separate out into something that resembles the lovely little life-preserving dynamo the Earth has.

    The Moon, especially the outer bit did cool down rather rapidly, so it's entirely possible that the concentration of metal in the crust is higher than here on Earth. Especially when you realise that the Moon must have received some core material from Theia, and possibly proto-Earth, depending on how big of a Bang that was..

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: Alternatively...

      How big a bang? multi peta-tonne?

      Icon : tis but a pimple on a gnats posterior.

  5. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    I don't entirely understand how this disproves the early collision theory. Even if both proto-Earth and Theia disintegrated into tiny parts with the collision, the chances of the ratio of parts being the same when they eventually coalesced into the Earth and Moon is pretty slim. Alternatively what if Theia was made of a little more metal than the Earth and it was more of a glancing blow than a complete destruction? Surely in this instance it would maintain more of its original material?

  6. PassiveSmoking

    The moon: Metal AF. No wonder it keeps ending up on album covers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Lycanthrope Metal rocks!

  7. po228

    "Presumably, contamination from the meteors was, or can be, ruled out."

    Ten quid says that ain't so

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Presumably, contamination from the meteors was, or can be, ruled out."

      Anon because obvious.

      My uncle was a respected geologist. But he had this weird notion that metallic meteors were the best explanation for wild, weird metallic deposits he had been studying.

      My father was a Wegenerian before plate tectonics became the party line. While it was not, he had trouble publishing his research on subduction, etc.

      I, just a High School "Science" teacher, what a misnomer for the BS we are required to distribute there, have gotten myself in trouble for asking about C14 in diamonds and coal, something I heard from Young Earthers, but, it turns out, that kind of questions are verboten, ekelhaft.

      I would add 10 quid to your wager, were I not just an heretic, from a family of heretics, but a coward besides, which my uncle and dad were not (though my dad once tried to explain to me the conveniences of not tattooing a target on my chest)

  8. MJI Silver badge


    From the coin slot operated cookers?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Metal

      I wonder what the Iron Chicken shits out?

  9. DCFusor

    Water has a really high dielectric constant too. Hmmm. "assumptions"

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spaceship Moon?

    Just sayin...

    1. JanMeijer

      Re: Spaceship Moon?

      I thought the Dwarf was parked on an asteroide

  11. IGotOut Silver badge

    Maybe... belongs to Darth Vader's Victorian relative.

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