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Published:November 29th, 2014 14:33 EST
The Presence of Volcanoes Do Actually Exist on the Moon

The Presence of Volcanoes Do Actually Exist on the Moon

By Ron G Anselm

"The presence of volcanoes is thought to be associated with Tropical paradise places like Hawaii and the Southern Hemisphere but would you believe they are also other places that are out of this world?"  (Anselm, R.)

I have always associated volcanoes with prehistoric landscape scenes where you see a pack of dinosaurs grazing on the prehistoric vegetation and in the background a sea of volcanoes sitting waiting to erupt at any moment but would you believe the presence of volcanoes are so mysterious they are actually out of this world?....Literally.

In 1971, the Apollo 15 mission which was orbiting the moon photographed some very odd pictures that baffled the minds of many scientists and astronomers. Of course back then technology was still as young as a new born baby just making his or her way to the nursery especially when it came to science and space and taking photographs in space. It was hard to tell what you were looking at when it came to those old black and white pictures.

What the Apollo 15 astronauts actually photographed was known as ina which in the photographs looked like the aftermath of a volcanic eruption. Scientists sat back and scratched their head to this mystery and probably had a few passing thoughts like, Volcanoes on the Moon?  Are we high on crack!?  but it turned out scientists weren`t high on crack and actually the moon is full of lunar volcanic materials. The ancient surface of the moon is actually covered with hardened lava and the famous face known as the man in the moon is actually made of old basaltic flows of lava deposited billions of years ago when the Moon was wracked by violent eruptions.

The puzzling ordeal to scientists is that they thought the volcanoes were a thing of the past on the moon and thought they became a thing of the past about a billion years ago but when ina was discovered it left scientists in a dilemma of what to believe if the presence of volcanoes really still existed on the moon or was ina something else yet to be discovered. So, ina remained a mystery for about thirty-years until scientists started researching and digging into the presence of volcanoes on the moon.

Scientists put together a research team led by Sarah Braden of Arizona State University and put to use NASA`s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and found that 70 landscapes similar to Ina.  They call them "Irregular Mare Patches" or IMPs for short.

Sarah Braden commented on the new discovery of the volcanic landscapes by saying, "Discovering new features on the lunar surface was thrilling. We looked at hundreds of high-resolution images, and when I found a new IMP it was always the highlight of my day.  The irregular mare patches look so different than more common lunar features like impact craters, impact melt, and highlands material. They really jump out at you."  (Braden, S)

We all know the moon`s surface is known for the many craters that cover it like a fresh blanket of snow but did you know you can actually estimate the age of the moon by counting the number of craters? Also, do you know what caused the moon to have the amount of craters that it does? You can estimate the age of the moon by counting its craters and the reason for the many craters is the moon sits in a path as if it was a target on a firing range and sitting in the path of anything and everything that flies in that particular path; is pelted by flying objects especially meteors that pelts its landscape like the city of Phoenix, Arizona gets pelted by sandstorms.

Some of the "Irregular Mare Patches" or IMPS that were found were found to be lightly cratered which suggest that those craters are no more than one-hundred billion years old. You may think Wow! a hundred-billion years! That`s a long-time!  It`s not when it comes to science and geological terms, it`s really just a blink of the eye.

Son the volcanic period of the moon and the trail it left behind many happened during the Cretaceous period on Earth which was the period of the dinosaurs.  Some of the volcanic features on the moon also suggest a younger period of possibly fifty-million years which was the period of the age of the mammals replacing the fierce dinosaurs on this planet.

John Keller, who is the LRO project scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, commented on this by saying, "This finding is the kind of science that is literally going to make geologists rewrite the textbooks about the Moon." (Keller, J.) And has mysterious has the moon really is so are the study of the IMP`s.

Some IMP`s are so small they are not visible from Earth. Some are averaging less than a third of a mile (500 meters) across in their largest dimension.  That`s why, scientists have a harder time finding them and being able to accurately study them in detail; other than Ina, they haven`t been found before.  Even though the IMP`s are hard to find they appear to be widespread all around the moons lunar surface.

Mark Robinson of Arizona State University and who is the principal investigator for LRO`s high resolution camera commented on IMPs`, "Not only are the IMPs striking landscapes, but also they tell us something very important about the thermal evolution of the Moon. The interior of the Moon is perhaps hotter than previously thought. We know so little of the Moon! The Moon is a large mysterious world in its own right, and its only three days away! I would love to land on an IMP and take the Moon`s temperature first-hand using a heat probe. Some people think the Moon looks dead, but I never thought so. To me, it has always been an inviting place of magnificent beauty, a giant magnet in our sky drawing me towards it." (Robinson, M.)

Mark Robinson went on to say, Young volcanoes have only turned up the heat on the Moon`s allure, let`s go! They have indeed turned up the heat and opened the door for scientists to explore more hidden facts about the Man in the moon. 

                                                                             Reference

Tony Phillips, PhD.  Young Volcanoes on the Moon, Science NewsScience@NASA Headline, (2014) (nasa.gov). Retrieved November 2014.

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