Europa’s Tidal Processes Give Hints to Our Moon’s Far-side Bulge

The Moon’s crust is thickest on the central farside, and becomes thinner towards the north pole in a manner described by a simple mathematical function. Early in lunar evolution, when a magma ocean was present, tides from the Earth could have heated the floating crust nonuniformly, such that the crust thinned at the poles and thickened at the equator. Today, the magma ocean has solidified, but the thick farside crust remains. Figure not to scale. Image © Science/AAAS

A self-conscious Moon might ask, “Does my far side look big?” To which lunar scientists would have to reply in the affirmative. They have long known there is a bulge on the Moon’s far side, a thick region of the lunar crust which underlies the farside highlands. But why that bulge is there has been a mystery, and the fact that the far side always faces away from Earth hasn’t helped. Now, a group of international scientists have found that perhaps the tidal processes of Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa, can provide a clue.

“Europa is a completely different satellite from our moon, but it gave us the idea to look at the process of tidal flexing of the crust over a liquid ocean,” said Ian Garrick-Bethell, the lead author of a new paper that offers an explanation for the lop-sided Moon.

(…) Read the rest of Europa’s Tidal Processes Give Hints to Our Moon’s Far-side Bulge (417 words)

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