Baylor research discovers mysterious mass on the far side of the moon
Baylor research drew national attention earlier this month with the announcement that a large, mysterious mass of material has been discovered beneath an enormous crater on the moon, perhaps containing metal from the asteroid that formed the crater billions of years ago.
“Imagine taking a pile of metal five times larger than the Big Island of Hawaii and burying it underground. That’s roughly how much unexpected mass we detected,” says the study’s lead author, Dr. Peter James, a Baylor geosciences professor. The mass is buried far beneath a crater that stretches some 2,000 kilometers across — roughly the distance from Waco to Washington, D.C. The discovery gives researchers at Baylor and elsewhere a new angle to investigate on what the inside of the moon may hold.
James, an assistant professor of planetary geophysics and founder of Baylor’s Planetary Research Group, came to BU in 2017 after earning his doctorate at MIT and then doing post-doc research at Columbia. James was joined in this study by scientists from NASA, MIT, Purdue and North Carolina State; their work was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
The news of the group’s discovery drew widespread media coverage, with stories in everything from National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine and Scientific American to CBS News, Fox News, CNN and Newsweek.
Next up for James and the Planetary Research Group? A partnership with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center to study the properties of Mercury’s crust and lithosphere.
Sic ’em, Dr. James!