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The moon

, Volume 4, Issue 1–2, pp 28–34 | Cite as

Moments of inertia of the lunar globe, and their bearing on chemical differentiation of its outer layers

  • Zdeněk Kopal
Article

Abstract

It is pointed out that the observed moments of inertia of the Moon, disclosed by its librations, are influenced mainly by the distribution of mass in the outer zone in which the lithostatic pressure is less than 10 kb (i.e., in the outer shell not more than 200 km deep); and a conspicuous departure of such moments from those expected in hydrostatic equilibrium disclosed that these layers could never have been fluid. In the same way, the actual shape of the lunar surface cannot represent a solidified surface of a fluid, petrified at any distance from the Earth.

The shape of the Moon, and differences of its moments of inertia must reflect the way in which the initial process of cold accretion fell short of producing a globe with strictly spherically-symmetrical stratification of material; and has nothing to do with tides - present or fossil. Such melting or lava flows as may have occurred at the Moon's surface from time to time must have remained localized, and without much effect on the dynamical properties of the Moon. A global ocean of molten magma some 200 km in depth (postulated sometimes to provide a reservoir in which the differentiation of elements exhibited by surface rocks could have taken place) at any time in the past is incompatible with the dynamical evidence on the motion of the Moon about its center of gravity.

Keywords

Stratification Outer Layer Dynamical Property Lava Flow Outer Shell 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zdeněk Kopal
    • 1
  1. 1.The Lunar Science InstituteHoustonUSA

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