06/12/2012 05:52 GMT | Updated 05/02/2013 05:12 GMT

Nasa's New Moon 'Gravity Map' Hints At Giant Life-Filled Ocean Hiding Beneath Martian Surface

A new 'gravity map' of the Moon has revealed its bruised and battered surface in amazing new detail - and has given scientists new hints about where life may be hiding on Mars.

Nasa's Grail probes made the incredibly accurate map by measuring tiny changes in the distance between them as they circled the Moon.

The $496 million probes flew in formation, detecting small fluctuations caused by mountains, craters and other small features on the Moon's surface.


Above: Nasa's new gravity map of the Moon

Among the features discovered by the team were 300-mile long dikes of solidified magma, as well as a surprisingly "porous" crust.

The crust of the Moon is just 21-27 miles thick, much thinner than earlier estimates.

The found that the Moon is basically completely battered - suggesting that the Earth was also subject to a similar pounding by material from space in the distant past.

The find "opens a window to this early stage of just what a violent place the surfaces of all terrestrial planets were early in their history" said Grail principal investigator Maria Zuber.

It is even thought the new images could help scientists uncover where life might be found on Mars. The researchers say that the violent early history of the Solar System led to most rocky planets having deep fractures in their surface.

As a result, it is possible that an ocean which once existed on the surface of Mars has now drained underground - and that life may have once (or may still) exist in the liquid contained inside the planet.