Shrinking moon may cause moonquakes

16 May, 2019, 06:50 | Author: Emilio Conner
  • The moon is shrinking like a grape — and that may be causing ‘moonquakes,’ NASA says | The Kansas City Star

NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter recently spotted wrinkles and quakes on the moon, suggesting that our moon is slowly shrinking over time. The moon has gotten about 150 feet skinnier over the last few hundred million years.

But unlike the flexible skin on a grape the moon's crust is brittle - causing it to break as the interior shrinks.

The moonquakes recorded aren't minor, they are "fairly strong, around five on the Richter scale".

A recent study, published in Nature Geoscience, analysed data from numerous seismometers on the Moon, placed by Apollo astronauts between 1969 and 1977.

To find out if those faults were still active, the team used an algorithm called LOCSMITH used to calculate where some of the Apollo moonquakes originated. Additionally, while other events, such as meteoroid impacts, can produce quakes, they produce a different seismic signature than quakes made by fault slip events.

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

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For the next wave of lunar missions, the space agency wants its moonwalkers to reflect today's astronauts, thus the name of Apollo's sister.

A 2010 evaluation of images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) discovered that the moon shriveled like a raisin as its inside cooled, abandoning 1000's of cliffs known as thrust faults on the moon's floor. Combined with evidence of dust and boulders moving near these faults, the researchers conclude that the Moon is tectonically active. Renee Weber, a planetary seismologist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center confirmed that more exploration into the surface of the moon is necessary, to learn how moonquakes can be hazardous.

At least eight are linked to thrust faults that are formed as the moon shrinks.

A team of geologists believe these cliff-like features are evidence of lunar tectonic activity. "No woman has ever walked on the lunar surface", Inclán told CNN in a statement. Astronauts maneuvered their lunar rover up and over the fault scarp.

Although the Apollo missions occurred decades ago, "the Apollo seismometers are the only ones deployed on the Moon", Watters said in an email to CTV News. Now, 50 years later, NASA has planned to send the first woman to the Moon in a manned lunar mission in 2024.

Mr Bridenstine has previously said President Trump's desire to put humans back on the moon by the year 2024 would provide an opportunity to test technology and capabilities before carrying out a mission to land on Mars by 2033. "The administration did not take it from the science mission directorate or they didn't take it from the International Space Station, which has been what cause these programs in the past to fail".


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