The Moon Is Shrinking Like Grapes Generating Moonquakes, According to NASA

The Moon Is Shrinking Like Grapes Generating Moonquakes, According to NASA

According to scientists, the moon has shrunk about 50 metres over the last several hundred million years. As the interior shrinks the hard crusty, brittle exterior breaks causing "thrust faults" where one section of the crust is pushed up over a neighboring part. The instruments were retired in 1977, but in the seven years that they were active, they recorded 28 moonquakes, ranging from about magnitude 1.5 to 5 on the Richter scale-at the upper end, enough to damage a nearby spacecraft or moonbase. These faults resemble small stair-shaped cliffs, or scarps, when seen from the lunar surface; each is roughly tens of yards high and a few miles long.

By looking at the size and location of the tremors, the algorithm estimates the epicenter of the moonquakes.

In addition, the new analysis revealed that six of the eight earthquakes occurred when the moon was at its peak or near its peak, the farthest point of the Earth in its orbit.

This increases the tidal stress due to Earth's gravity and makes the quakes more likely.

Simulations determined the chance that coincidence could explain so many shallow quakes occurring near faults during periods of high stress was less than 4 percent.

Thousands of young cliff-like, fault scarps detected in images taken by NASAs Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) are evidence of a shrinking moon and recently active lunar faults.

Researchers believe this process is still active on the moon, meaning it is still changing and still experiencing quakes.

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The moon is not the solar system's only object shrinking with age. It's only fitting then that NASA would christen the mission aiming to take man back to the moon after her name. Cutting across the valley, just above the landing site, is the Lee-Lincoln fault scarp.

The moon's interior is gradually cooling down, causing it to slowly shrivel up like a raisin, and causing "moonquakes", NASA said this week. Announcing project Artemis, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said: "Fifty years after Apollo, the Artemis program will carry the next man and first woman to the moon".

Symbolic or no, it will be the first time that a woman has ever walked across the surface of Earth's grey satellite.

Bridenstine says even with more funding, the mission is more a question of time than money.

Prof Schmerr said: "For me, these findings emphasise we need to go back to the Moon".

"This investment is a down payment on NASA's efforts and will allow us to move forward in design, development and exploration", Bridenstine said. LRO is managed by NASA Goddard for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Image credit: NASA / GSFC / Arizona State University / Smithsonian Institution.

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