UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — The natural satellite of the Earth has long been considered poor in precious metals. A new study shows that this is not so: in the depths of the Selena, real treasures can be hidden.
At the disposal of earthlings about 400 kilograms of lunar soil, mostly delivered by American expeditions. By measuring the concentration of precious metals in it, scientists are faced with the sacramental question “why so little.”
Of course, this is partly due to the origin of the moon. According to the most popular theory of its formation, which we described in detail , our satellite appeared due to the collision of the early Earth with the planet Theia.
At the same time, Teia and a noticeable part of the globe turned into hot gas. Part of the substance of this cloud eventually fell to the Earth, and from the remaining, the Moon formed.
Of course, primarily heavy elements fell to Earth: iron, nickel, and so on. This, by the way, explains where our planet has such a large iron core : it has incorporated Thei metal. Precious metals are also heavy and should have been mainly for the globe, not Selena.
However, even with this in mind, the “queen of the night” should have more precious substances than they were actually found in the lunar rocks (where is it, after all, seen – a queen without jewels?).
A group of scientists from Canada and the United States suggested that the “disappeared” metals are actually on the moon, but they did not hit its surface.
Given the sulfur content in lunar rocks, experts suggested that the mantle of Selena is rich in iron sulfide.
“A study of the mineral deposits on Earth shows that [sulfide] iron sulfide is a great place to store precious metals such as platinum and palladium,” explains James Brenan, the first author of the article, from Dalhousie University in Canada.
To test their hypothesis, the authors reproduced in the laboratory the conditions inside the moon. Researchers imitated the expected composition of lunar mantle rocks (in particular, the desired concentration of sulfur and iron).
The experimenters subjected this substance to extreme temperatures and pressures. Scientists were interested in how much iron sulfide is obtained.
It turned out that the compound is formed in sufficient quantities to “captivate” platinum and palladium and prevent them from spilling onto the surface with basalt lavas.
True, the authors note that the reserves of precious metals on the Moon can be, alas and ah, too poor for industrial development.
Of course, the experiment conducted is only an indirect confirmation of the hypothesis of metals “locked” in the mantle of Selena. To test it directly, you need samples of mantle minerals.
But such samples are enormous rarity even on Earth , along and across the path of geologists. The necessary lunar rocks at the disposal of geochemists so far simply do not.
As the data of orbital apparatuses show, the deep geological layers of the Moon can be exposed in the Schrödinger and Zeeman craters in the South Pole – Aitken basin.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.
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