Late, Big Bombardments Brought Heavy Metals to Earth

A huge impact may have formed the Moon, but other large impacts could have determined the makeup of Earth and other planetary bodies. Image Credit: Joe Tucciarone

One of the fundamental problems in planetary science is trying to determine how planetary bodies in the inner solar system formed and evolved. A new computer model suggests that huge objects – some as big as large Kuiper Belt Objects like Pluto and Eris — likely pummeled the Earth, Moon and Mars during the late stages of planetary formation, bringing heavy metals to the planetary surfaces. This model – created by various researchers from across the NASA Lunar Science Institute — surprisingly addresses many different puzzles across the Solar System, such as how Earth could retain metal-loving, elements like gold and platinum found in its mantle, how the interior of the Moon could actually be wet, and the strange distribution in the sizes of asteroids.

“Most of the evidence of what happened during the late stages of planetary formation has been erased over time,” said Bill Bottke from the Southwest Research Institute, who led the research team. “The trail we’ve been tracking on these worlds is pretty cold and to be able to dig more information out of what we have and be able answer some long standing problems is pretty exciting.” (…) Read the rest of Late, Big Bombardments Brought Heavy Metals to Earth (1,354 words)

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