Earth’s pull “shaped Moon’s surface”

The Earth may have played a major role in shaping the lunar surface, according to a new research study by US researchers.

The team members say our planet’s gravitational pull distorted the shape of the Moon in ancient times.

This led to “bulging” at the equator and could explain why the far side is more elevated than the near side of the Moon even today.

Details of the study are published in the journal Science.

The far side of the Moon remains a mystery in many ways. Densely cratered, it has few of the volcanic plains that characterise the near side with which we are all familiar, and it is much higher – several kilometres higher in places.

Now the authors of a new study think they know why it might have become so high and are blaming the Earth.

Over four billion years ago, soon after the Moon’s formation and before it had solidified to its core, its crust floated on a sea of magma.

It was during this time that the Earth was able to tug on that floating crust, distorting it, much like the Moon tugs on the Earth’s oceans today creating the tides.

This “tidal bulge” in the Moon’s shape led to the crust melting and thinning at the poles where the strain was greatest, while the crust around the equator remained thicker and fatter, say the scientists.

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