Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Scientists Can't Explain Unknown Material on the Moon

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The Moon is the closest celestial body to our

planet. So it's no wonder that since ancient times, astronomers have been fascinated with

Earth's one and only natural satellite. Today, modern technology allows scientists to explore

the lunar surface from afar. And some of their findings are outright baffling. Like, what

is that huge and mysterious metal mass thats just been discovered in one of the Moon's

craters? Hmmm.

"Mysterious hunk," "anomalous clump," or simply "mass" - these are all the nicknames that

I have in common with this strange object, (ha ha) bestowed in the last couple of months

since its discovery in April 2019. So far, scientists have been struggling to explain

where this giant lump of unidentified material came from or what it really is. But let me

back up, and well start from the beginning

On the far side of the Moon, youll find one of the largest and oldest impact craters

in our Solar System: the South Pole-Aitken basin. Unfortunately, from here on Earth,

you can only see its outer rim, which looks like a huge chain of mountains. So, if you

want to see the whole crater with your own eyes, youll need to gear up and head to

the moon yourself! On the bright side (which we are), the trip would be worth your time!

I bet you'd be awestruck by a ginormous 8-mile-deep dent stretching for more than 1,500 miles

in diameter and covering a quarter of the Moon's surface! Astronomers are sure that

this crater appeared when an asteroid collided with the Moon around 4 billion years ago.

And now, imagine a gigantic chunk of metal almost the size of West Virginia. As for its

weight in pounds, all Ill say is that this number has a string of 17 zeros behind it.

So, yeah, whatever it is, its huuuge . And this mysterious metallic mass is buried

180 miles under the Moon's surface, somewhere in the middle of the South Pole-Aitken basin.

Ok, if its so deep underground on a part of the moon you cant even see from Earth,

how did scientists manage to spot this mass? Well, weve got technology to thank for

that! After GRAIL (which stands for NASA'sGravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory

mission) had gathered a bunch of data on our natural satellite, astronomers started to

examine this information.

Thats when one thing confused them the most. In one place on the Moon's surface (yep,

it was that South Pole-Aitken basin), they saw a weird change in gravity. After studying

this unexpected phenomenon a bit more, they concluded that there was a mysterious huge

something weighing down the basin floor.

So far, researchers haven't yet figured out the origin of the bizarre lump, but there

are several theories. One of them claims that the finding is a chunk of dense oxides, which

likely appeared when the Moon was just taking the shape it has now. At that time, our little

satellite was still covered with ancient oceans of magma. This humungous lump couldve formed

at the final stages of its cooling.

However, most scientists support another theory that the puzzling mass is a part of the monstrosity

that once created the very South Pole-Aitken basin itself! Since the thing is metallic,

it could be the iron-nickel core of the asteroid (or whatever it was) that collided with the

Moon several billion years ago.

In any case, the Moon is good at keeping its secrets, and researchers still haven't come

to any final conclusion. The only obvious thing is that the basin is a great natural

laboratory where scientists can study disastrous impact events. And the "anomalous clump" might

tell us a lot more about both the Moon and the history of the Universe overall!

But wait, did you think that the massive chunk of metal hiding deep under the Moons surface

is the only lunar mystery out there? Well, hang tight because Ive got plenty more!

- One phenomenon has been perplexing astronomers for decades (since the 1950s, to be precise),

and that's random flashes of light coming from the surface of the Moon. They even got

their own fancy nickname: "transient lunar phenomena." The flashes have no consistent

pattern and occur totally at random. Sometimes astronomers observe them several times a week,

and at other times, the flashes might disappear for months. Some of them last just a couple

minutes, while others have gone on for hours! Explanations vary from likely moonquakes and

meteors to the more bizarrealientheories. But, again, the mystery is yet to be solved.

The good thing is that a new telescope might shed light on these strange flashes. Itll

be pointing at the Moon's surface 24/7, recording videos and taking photos as soon as the phenomenon

occurs. The telescope has been set up in an observatory in Spain since the weather conditions

there are best for observing the Moon.

Now, a day before Apollo 11 landed on the lunar surface in 1969, the missions Command

Module Pilot Michael Collins reported that one area of the Moon was more illuminated

than the surrounding landscape. He added that it looked as if that region had fluorescence

to it. The astronauts could clearly see a crater, and they noticed that the area around

it was weirdly bright. Is this phenomenon connected with the mysterious lunar flashes?

Scientists are still at a loss to this day.

- Speaking of Apollo 11, the astronauts had a lot of problems with the Moon's dust. Due

to its unique texture, as well as to the low gravity, this dust clung to everything, even

to the point of affecting the astronautshelmet visors and eroding their boots! It

turns out that lunar dust is dangerous for people. Its particles are incredibly sharp,

and when breathed in, they can damage the brain and lungs beyond repair!

- Small quakes often happen on the Moon, and they havent been put down to one cause

either. Some scientists believe that theyre due to the gravitational pull our planet has

on its natural satellite. Others claim that when the Moon's crust moves, heats up, or

gets hit by meteorites, the seismic vibrations occur. Whatever the reason, when a moonquake

happens several miles beneath the surface, it leaves ruptures and cracks that astronomers

have even been able to record.

- and theres this: There might be a labyrinth of lava tunnels on the Moon. Astronomers have

discovered a massive cave under the lunar surface thanks to some topography data they

recently got back. Around 30 miles long and 60 miles wide, the giant Moon cave might be

the result of volcanic activity that happened there about 3 billion years ago. Streams of

lava hardened, creating a thick hard crust on the outside. But inside, it kept flowing,

melting the rock and creating tunnels and caves. Countless small pits in the Moon's

surface seem to be openings to these underground labyrinths. If this theory gets confirmed,

the tunnels could serve as a convenient location for manned space missions as well as a much-needed

water source for astronauts!

- If you ever set foot on the Moon, you'll immediately notice that your shadow is much

darker than it is on Earth. But this isnt an unsolved mystery. On our planet, the atmosphere

scatters light in such a way that even objects that arent in direct sunlight are still

well-lit and visible. But there is no air to scatter light on the Moon, so shadows are

extremely dark and sunlit areas are exceptionally bright.

- Now dont feel bad, but The Moon is abandoning us! Every year, its orbit moves about an inch

and a half away from our planet. At this rate, in 500 million years, the Moon will be 14,600

miles further from Earth than it is now!

- Despite all appearances, the Moon isn't a perfect sphere. It might look like that

when you glance at it hanging up there in the night sky. But, in fact, the Moon is shaped

like an egg! Scientists have spent years trying to understand what forces helped mold such

an unusual form. One of the theories is that the Moons center of mass is a bit closer

to Earth than its geometric center, which couldve stretched it out to its egg-like

shape. Or it could have been laid by a giant space chicken. Or not.

- And finally, how about this: some scientists don't even agree that the Moon is Earth's

satellite! First, being around one-fourth the size of our planet, the crater-pocked

thing is just too big to be our moon. Besides, itd technically be incorrect to say that

the Moon orbits the Earth. In fact, the dynamic duo sort of orbit each other, kind of like

when two people hold hands and spin around together. But since the barycenter (which,

in astronomy, is the point a celestial object orbits around) is located within the Earth,

we feel as if the Moon is orbiting our planet!

Have you heard about any other secrets the Moon is keeping from us? Let me know down

in the comments! If you learned something new today, then give this video a like and

share it with a friend. Buthey! – don't go moonwalking just

yet! We have over 2,000 cool videos for you to check out. All you have to do is pick the

left or right video, click on it, and enjoy! Stay on the Bright Side of life!

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