Scientists previously thought that the moon's volcanic activity died down a billion years ago. But new data from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, hints that lunar lava flowed much more recently, perhaps less than 100 million years ago.
"This finding is the kind of science that is literally going to make geologists rewrite the textbooks about the moon," John Keller, LRO project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said in a statement. The discovery of these deposits could also change the way scientists think about the temperature of the moon's interior.
"The existence and age of the irregular mare patches tell us that the lunar mantle had to remain hot enough to provide magma for the small-volume eruptions that created these unusual young features," Sarah Braden, a recent Arizona State University graduate who led the study, said in a statement.