Moon Shrinking Like A Raisin, Creating Strong Quakes

Mindy Sparks
May 15, 2019

Called Lobate Scarps, those attributes from tens to a few hundreds of meters high constitute thrust faults places where the surface is shrinking as the moon cools. But because the moon's surface is brittle, not flexible like grape skin, it cracked and formed slip faults as it shrank. The quakes can be strong, around a five on the Richter scale, according to the NASA statement. When Astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt landed in the moon's Taurus-Littrow valley in 1972 they had to zig-zag their lunar rover up and over these cliff faces.

NASA's Apollo 11 mission succeeded in landing the first humans on the moon on July 20, 1969. They developed an algorithm that meant they could get a more accurate location for the epicenters of each quake as an award winning weekly American magazine published. Meaning, the Apollo seismometers were recording the actual shrinking of the Moon.

A new paper in Nature Geoscience discusses these findings, which could collectively demonstrate that the Moon is not, in fact, a geologically dead world.

However, while valuable, the Apollo data could not pinpoint the epicentres of the quakes to understand how they're caused.

Of the 28 quakes, eight were within 30 kilometres of scarps.

Six out of the eight tectonically active moonquakes occurred when the Moon was at or close to its apogee, the point where it's most distant from Earth and where the diurnal and recession stresses create the most compression near the tidal axis.

This increases the tidal stress due to Earth's gravity and makes the quakes more likely. They found it is less than 4 percent. Other events such as meteorite impacts can produce quakes, but those would produce different seismic signatures. A team of researchers have now reanalyzed the data along with detailed images captured by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which was launched in 2009. The bright patches have been exposed to this radiation only recently hence the existence of boulders and landslides is evidence of recent moonquakes.


The surface of the Moon is known to darken over long periods of time when exposed to solar and other space radiation.

The moon's interior is gradually cooling down, causing it to slowly shrivel up like a raisin, and causing "moonquakes", NASA said this week.

Besides basic financing, the mission will also require the most powerful rocket ever designed, a new launch system, a fresh approach to lunar landing systems, a floating "gateway" station between Earth and the Moon that does not now exist, and brand new lunar space suits for everyone.

Seeing the first woman land on the moon in the foreseeable future will inspire a new generation of young girls, the NASA chief said.

Additionally, "Establishing a new network of seismometers on the lunar surface should be a priority for human exploration of the Moon, both to learn more about the Moon's interior and to determine how much of a hazard moonquakes present", said co-author Renee Weber, a planetary seismologist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

NASA hopes that more exploration of the moon will help the USA establish a strategic presence in space and grow their global partnerships.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said earlier this year, 'For the first time in over 10 years, we have money in this budget for a return to the Moon with humans.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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