There could be precious metals in the rock beneath the lunar surface, ...

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() Precious metals could exist under the surface of the moon, scientists say.

A team of researchers made the prediction after modelling the geological conditions which could exist on the inside of the Earth's satellite.

They found that the moon's mantle is likely rich in certain 'siderophile' elements, which are those that, like gold and platinum, bond easily with iron.

It is unclear exactly what precious metals might lie under the moon's surface, however, and whether such would be easy to extract if desired.

Nevertheless, the results help shine light on why rocks brought back from the moon by the Apollo missions contained less siderophile elements than predicted. 

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Precious metals could exist under the surface of the moon, pictured in this artist's model, suggest experts who modelled the conditions magma experiences inside the natural satellite

Precious metals could exist under the surface of the moon, pictured in this artist's model, suggest experts who modelled the conditions magma experiences inside the natural satellite

Geologist James Brenan of Canada's Dalhousie University and colleagues set out to work out the composition of the moon's mantle, specifically that of so-called iron-loving — or siderophile — elements, which include gold and platinum.

Experts believe that these were not part of the moon when it was first formed after a Mars-sized planet collided into the Earth, chucking material up into space.

Instead, they were delivered to the moon in an assortment of impacts around the time that the solar system's period of formation was coming to an end.

Knowing the proportion of siderophile elements that make up the moon would help researchers determine the extend of the bombardment suffered by the early moon.

The researchers began by considering the material brought back from moon around 50 years ago which is available for us to study directly. 

'We have a grand total of 400 kilograms of sample that was brought back by the Apollo and lunar missions,' Professor Brenan told ScienceAlert. 

'It's a pretty small amount of material. So, in order to find out anything about the interior of the Moon we have to kind of reverse engineer the composition of the lavas that come onto the surface.'

Previous research on rocks brought back by the Apollo 15 and 17 missions, however, yielded siderophile levels that were around 10–100 times smaller than expected.

The numbers wouldn't even add up when experts tried to account for how impacts into the early lunar surface — unlike those hitting the Earth — might have eroded the moon, taking from its overall mass rather than adding to it. 

Instead, Professor Brenan and colleagues went back to basics, modelling how rocks on the moon's surface would have formed from the magma beneath.

They found that the moon's mantle is likely rich in certain 'siderophile' elements, which are those that, like gold and platinum bond easily with iron

They found that the moon's mantle is likely rich in certain 'siderophile' elements, which are those that, like gold and platinum bond

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