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Apollo 17 astronaut Jack Schmitt uses a rake on the surface of the moon. (Image credit: NASA)

Scientists may have finally come up with an explanation for one of the Apollo program’s most enduring mysteries: why some of the rocks brought back from the lunar surface appear to have been formed inside a magnetic field as strong as that on Earth.

Magnetic fields are produced inside planetary bodies by the churning movement of material in planets’ electrically conductive molten cores. But today the interior of the non-magnetic moon is quite different from Earth’s magnetized innards — it’s dense and mostly frozen, containing only a small outer core region that is fluid and molten. Scientists believe that the moon’s insides cooled fairly quickly and evenly after it formed around 4.5 billion years ago, meaning it doesn’t have a strong magnetic field — and many scientists believe it never did.

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