Panaji: Chandrayaan-1's Moon Mineralogy Mapper (3M), an American experiment has confirmed the Lunar Magma Ocean hypothesis, an explanation for the formation of the Lunar Highlands. The hypothesis postulates that a large portion of the moon was once completely molten, forming a lunar magma ocean.
Evidence for the magma ocean hypothesis had initially come from the highly anorthositic compositions of the crust in the lunar highlands.
"It proves beyond doubt the magma ocean hypothesis. There is no other way this massive rock type could be formed," said Carle Pieters, science manager at the NASA-supported spectroscopy facility at Brown University in the US. Pieters was in charge of the 3M on the Chandrayaan mission.
She was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the ongoing Low Cost Planetary Mission conference here.
Referring to the presence of anorthite, a calcium-rich, iron-deficient layer on the upper crust of the lunar surface, she said this rose to the top as the moon eventually cooled down after a turbulent origin.
Pieters also said that the Chandrayaan mission had thrown up a couple of surprise findings, which included identification of a new rock type on the moon. The Chandrayaan mission has only recently been abandoned after loss of contact with ground stations at Byalalu, near Bangalore.