NASA says the moon is shrinking and experiencing "moonquakes"

NASA says the moon is shrinking and experiencing

Another Nasa project, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbitor (LRO) spacecraft, has snapped thousands of images of the fault scarps on the moon since 2009, showing various landslides on the Moon's surface. The valley was explored in 1972 by the Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt. "Some of these quakes can be fairly strong, around five on the Richter scale".

Scientists now believe those faults are to blame for the tremors.

The quakes are within 31 km of faults visible in the LRO images, close enough for the team to conclude that the faults likely caused the quakes. The key takeaway from the study is that the moon is more active in this regard than was previously thought, which could have ramifications for, say, the location of a future outpost, reports National Geographic.

Schmerr and colleagues superimposed the epicenters for moonquakes recorded by Apollo-era seismometers with LRO imagery of thrust faults. The quakes suggested it all on their own, though other forces can also shake the Moon. Astronauts maneuvered their lunar rover up and over the fault scarp. Taking all the models together and examining images showing evidence of recent moving debris on the Moon, the researchers hypothesized that the Moon must still be tectonically active. From an analysis of the timing of these eight events, we found that six occurred when the Moon was less than 15,000km from the apogee distance. For example, bright patches of ground have been observed near faults, which appear to be patches of lunar regolith that have yet to be darkened by weathering and radiation. The astronauts also examined boulders and boulder tracks on the slope of North Massif near the landing site. These regions, known as thrust faults, may still be growing today, and the overall size of the Moon may be shrinking as a result. Geologically, however, this is no time to call.

Seismic activity on the moon is causing it to shrink and wrinkle "like a raisin", according to an earth-shattering new study.

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"It's really remarkable to see how data from almost 50 years ago and from the LRO mission has been combined to advance our understanding of the Moon", LRO Project Scientist John Keller said in a statement, adding that it also guides future missions on the interiors of the moon.

Of the 28 moonquakes measured, the team found at least eight were caused by true tectonic activity, with an equivalent natural disaster magnitude of about 2 to 5.

(You did call your mother on Sunday, right?) Geologists are interested in the geological activity going on across the solar system because we know these processes on Earth have fundamentally shaped its structure and ability to support life. When that movement occurs, a quake is felt, and in the case of the Moon the continued movement of the plates may indicate that it's not done shrinking. Two are associated with vibrations originating underground - deep and shallow ones - another is due to vibrations from the impact of meteorites and the last variety are thermal quakes; these are formed after the Moon has undergone two weeks of freezing nights and is then subsequently warmed by the morning Sun, causing the surface layers to expand.

According to the Office of Management and Budget, the extra money for the moon mission would come from surplus funding for Pell grants, the financial aid program for low-income college students.

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