There are so many conflicting studies about the Moon's origins that at times, it feels impossible to keep up. For something so close to us, it's astonishing how little concrete information we have about how the Moon was formed. But a new study could clear up some confusion around the Moon's infancy by searching for answers in a seriously unorthodox way — with nuclear fallout.
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Earth has some battle scars from back in the day. When the solar system was still young and wild, roughly four billion years ago, Earth, its Moon and Mars were attacked by a series of asteroid assailants. It's long been assumed that the space rocks involved in the assault — called the Late Heavy Bombardment — are now floating around in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
The general scientific consensus is as follows: early Earth collided with something roughly the size of Mars, chipping off a bit of our planet which would become our Moon. But there's new research to suggest the Moon was formed by a whole bunch of tiny collisions instead, over millions of years, with the fragments eventually forming the Moon we see today.
The researchers say this would explain why the Moon appears to be composed largely of Earth-like material, rather than a mix of Earth and another planet.
Today, Donald Trump wrapped up a meeting with Rice University professor and historian Douglas Brinkley. According to members of the press pool following the president-elect, the crux of their conversation revolved around "a man going to the moon". Naturally we must ask ourselves: Does Trump know the US has done that no less than a dozen times?
Going to the Moon is officially hip again, thanks in no small part to Google, which is offering $US20 million to the first private company that can land on our nearest neighbour, roll around a bit, and beam images back to Earth. The latest contender for that sweet sweet X-Prize money is Japan, which has just obtained a launch vehicle for the shiny metal cheese grater rover it plans to send to the Moon late next year.
Last night, photographers around the world turned their cameras to the sky to capture the closest full moon — also known as a supermoon — since 1948. We've scoured the web to bring you some of our favourite photos of the celestial event that took our minds off the current state of world affairs for a few blissful minutes.
Entire lifetimes have come and gone without the moon looking quite as large as it will this month. On November 14, skygazers will witness the closest full moon, or "supermoon", of 2016. But more excitingly, it will be the closest full moon since 1948 - and we won't get another one like it until 2034.