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Science
FRONTIERS
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Wednesday 21:00-21:30
Frontiers explores new ideas in science, meeting the researchers who see the world through fresh eyes and challenge existing theories - as well as hearing from their critics. Many such developments create new ethical and moral questions and Frontiers is not afraid to consider these.
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Listen to 27 October
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Wednesday 27 October 2004
Surface of the Moon
A Rille on the Moon seen by Apollo 10
Astronauts, courtesy JSC/NASA

The Moon's Formation
How did the moon form? The most favoured theory - of a cataclysmic impact on our planet - that's dominated scientific thinking for over a quarter of a century has always had its critics.

But the final piece of the jigsaw may just be in place. Frontiers weighs up new research which could offer the complete picture into the dramatic events that led to the creation of our nearest neighbour.

Well Mapped
The moon is one of the most studied regions of near space - it is, after all, the only place in the solar system that man has set foot on beyond our own planet. Yet how the moon formed has continued to mystify.

Analysis of moon rocks following the Apollo missions in the 1970's laid weight to a newly emerging theory that a Mars sized body in the early days of the solar system crashed into the young earth, melting the Earth's crust and from the resulting shattered remains, emerged the moon.

But when did this exactly happen? And how could a planet that shared the same orbit as the earth, grow as big as Mars, without being swallowed up by the Earth...only to then impact on our home planet?

Simulations
Peter Evans examines new computer simulations of events and hears startling new evidence from Professor Richard Gott of Princeton University who believes that this Mars sized body hid in a seemingly impossible, but increasingly likely location a mere 150 million km from Earth's orbit for millions of years, until it found itself on an inevitable collision course with the Earth.

If the theory is correct, it could have far reaching proof that the universe is full of hidden areas where life might flourish.

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