Internal structure of the Moon

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Internal structure of the Moon

Post  meodingu on Tue Oct 19, 2010 12:03 am

Internal structure of the Moon
Chemical composition of the lunar surface regolith (derived from crustal rocks)[22] Compound Formula Composition (wt %)
Maria Highlands
silica SiO2 45.4% 45.5%
alumina Al2O3 14.9% 24.0%
lime CaO 11.8% 15.9%
iron(II) oxide FeO 14.1% 5.9%
magnesia MgO 9.2% 7.5%
titanium dioxide TiO2 3.9% 0.6%
sodium oxide Na2O 0.6% 0.6%
Total 99.9% 100.0%

The Moon is a differentiated body: it has a geochemically distinct crust, mantle, and core. This structure is thought to have developed through the fractional crystallization of a global magma ocean shortly after the Moon's formation 4.5 billion years ago.[23] Crystallization of this magma ocean would have created a mafic mantle from the precipitation and sinking of the minerals olivine, clinopyroxene, and orthopyroxene; after about three-quarters of the magma ocean had crystallised, lower-density plagioclase minerals could form and float into a crust on top.[24] The final liquids to crystallise would have been initially sandwiched between the crust and mantle, with a high abundance of incompatible and heat-producing elements.[1] Consistent with this, geochemical mapping from orbit shows the crust is mostly anorthosite,[5] and moon rock samples of the flood lavas erupted on the surface from partial melting in the mantle confirm the mafic mantle composition, which is more iron rich than that of Earth.[1] Geophysical techniques suggest that the crust is on average ~50 km thick.[1]

The Moon is the second densest satellite in the Solar System after Io.[25] However, the core of the Moon is small, with a radius of about 350 km or less;[1] this is only ~20% the size of the Moon, in contrast to the ~50% of most other terrestrial bodies. Its composition is not well constrained, but it is probably metallic iron alloyed with a small amount of sulphur and nickel; analyses of the Moon's time-variable rotation indicate that it is at least partly molten.[26]

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