Excerpt from forbes.com
By Brid-Aine Parnell
Space geologists will have to rewrite the textbooks on the Moon after the latest Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter data, which shows that there have been volcanoes on our rocky satellite a lot more recently than we thought.
NASA’s LRO satellite has spotted strong evidence that the Moon’s volcanic activity slowed down gradually instead of coming to an abrupt stop a billion years ago – which also means the interior is probably not the temperature scientists thought it was.
Some of the distinctive rock deposit evidence seen by LRO could be as young as a hundred million years, right around the time of the dinosaurs on Earth. Others could be even younger, just 50 million years old.
“This finding is the kind of science that is literally going to make geologists rewrite the textbooks about the moon,” said John Keller, LRO project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre, in a statement.
So many of these rocky deposits strongly suggests that the last spate of volcanoes on the Moon weren’t sporadic flukes, but important parts of the Moon’s geological history.
If there was widespread volcanic activity still going on just a few tens of millions of years ago, that also means that the temperature of the Moon’s interior is probably very different to previous estimates.
“The existence and age of the irregular mare patches tell us that the lunar mantle had to remain hot enough to provide magma for the small-volume eruptions that created these unusual young features,” said Sarah Braden, a recent Arizona State University graduate and the lead author of the study.