Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 28th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

The Lunar Lowdown


moonSLUG REPORT > UCSC researchers unveil new theory about the moon

Pink Floyd may have sung about the dark side of the moon, but UC Santa Cruz planetary scientists have made an important new insight into the far side of the moon.

The lunar hemisphere that is permanently turned away from Earth is dramatically different from the part facing the planet. Its crust is much thicker than the near side’s, and the terrain is more jagged and varied. UCSC professor of Earth and planetary sciences Erik Asphaug explained that the new study theorizes that the moon was at some point struck by a smaller piece of matter that created the upset in the far side’s surface.

This goes along with the “giant impact” model, which puts forth the idea that the moon was originally created by the debris of a Mars-sized object striking Earth. The smaller body that later struck the moon may have been another piece of debris from the first collision.

"Our model works well with models of the moon-forming giant impact, which predict there should be massive debris left in orbit about the Earth, besides the moon itself,” said Asphaug in an Aug. 1 press release from UCSC. “It agrees with what is known about the dynamical stability of such a system, the timing of the cooling of the moon, and the ages of lunar rocks."

Ausphaug coauthored a paper with UCSC postdoctoral researcher Martin Jutzi that will appear in the Aug. 4 issue of Nature. Jutzi said in the press release that it’s no coincidence that the far side is the part with craters, but that it has to do with balance.

"The collision could have happened anywhere on the moon," he said. "The final body is lopsided and would reorient so that one side faces Earth."

The new study challenges a theory, previously put out by UCSC colleagues Ian Garrick-Bethell and Francis Nimmo, that the surface of the moon has more to do with tidal forces than anything else. In the press release, Nimmo said he still wasn’t sure what to believe, but praised Asphaug and Jutzi’s “elegant” article. He also stressed that the absolute truth is still a mystery.

"The fact that the near side of the moon looks so different to the far side has been a puzzle since the dawn of the space age, perhaps second only to the origin of the moon itself," he said. "As further spacecraft data (and, hopefully, lunar samples) are obtained, which of these two hypotheses is more nearly correct will become clear.”


Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Santa Cruz Gives

A look at the organizations we’re asking you to support in our new holiday giving campaign


Gratitude—For Each New Morning With its Light

The full moon of Wednesday brings light to Thanksgiving (Thursday) under the Sagittarius Sun and Mercury. Mercury in Sag offers humanity the message (Mercury) of thankfulness and joy (Jupiter). No other sign represents food, music and joy better than Sagittarius (only Pisces, when not in despair). Beginning on Thanksgiving, we can list what we’re grateful for. Then we can continue the list, creating a daily Gratitude Journal. What we are grateful for always increases in our lives. On Thanksgiving Saturn/Neptune square (challenging) is in full effect. This can manifest as traditions not being honored, disappearing, falling away. It can also create a sense of sadness, confusion, of things not working out as planned. It’s best to be as simple as possible. And to focus on gratitude instead. Gratitude is a service to others. It is scientifically and occultly a releasing agent. Releasing us from the past, allowing our future—the new culture and civilization, the new Aquarian laws and principles, the rising light of Aquarius, the Age of Friendship and Equality—to come forth. Gratitude and goodwill create the “thought-form of solution for humanity and the world’s problems.” The hierarchy lays great emphasis upon expressing gratitude. Gratitude illuminates all that is in darkness. Let us be grateful during this season together. Being, for others, the light that illuminates the darkness. A Poem by R.W. Emerson: We are grateful … “For each new morning with its light/For rest and shelter of the night/For health and food/For love and friends/For everything thy goodness sends.” (poem by R.W. Emerson). I am grateful for my family of readers.


The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program


Pluck of the Irish

Mid-century immigrant tale engagingly told in ‘Brooklyn’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


Second Street Café

Pies and tarts for all tastes—from traditional to adventurous


How are you preparing for El Niño?

Getting ready to buy some rain gear. Cory Pickering, Santa Cruz, Teaching Assistant


Fortino Winery

Cabernet and superb fruit wine from Fortino Winery


Tap Dance

West End Tap & Kitchen’s impressive menu to expand to Eastside location