NASA says the moon is shrinking and experiencing "moonquakes"

15 Mai, 2019, 16:26 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • The Moon is shrinking Five decades on Apollo mission data still surprising

After its formation, the moon's interior cooled over time, causing the surface of the moon to shrink the same way a grape shrivels up into a raisin, according to NASA. This creates stair-step cliffs called thrust faults as part of the crust is pushed up and over another close part of the crust.

NASA's planned mission to the moon-which aims to put the first woman on the lunar surface by 2024- has been named Artemis after the ancient Greek goddess who is the daughter of Zeus and Leto. Image credit: NASA / GSFC / Arizona State University / Smithsonian Institution. Now, a study reveals that there are actually "wrinkles" on the moon, and that at least one lunar mare has been cracking and shifting as much as other areas of the moon, and may still be moving today.

Also on Monday, the president proposed that his administration would meet this requirement-in addition to the space agency's $21.5 billion annual funding allocation-with a new budget amendment, although this is not guaranteed as Congress still has to sign the money off. These features appeared relatively bright in the images, suggesting that they were produced recently. Normally, weathering darkens material on the moon's surface in time.

As part of the amended budget request, the White House included $1 billion to begin the development of a lander capable of getting astronauts to the surface of the moon.

Seismometers left on the moon by Apollo missions recorded 28 moonquakes between 1969 and 1977. These were very shallow quakes ranging in magnitude from 2 to 5. Schmerr designed the algorithm that re-analyzed the Apollo data. They found that at least eight of the moonquakes matched nearly perfectly with scarps, suggesting that they were produced by genuine tectonic activity, rather than processes deep within the moon's interior or from asteroid impacts.

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"While there are many steps ahead in the budget and appropriations process, all of us at NASA should be very proud and excited by this unique opportunity", Bridenstine said in his video message. This is where additional tidal stress from Earth's gravity causes a peak in the total stress, making slip-events along these faults more likely.

The authors used their model to produce "shake maps" based on predictions of where the strongest shaking should occur, given the size of thrust faults. Additionally, the new analysis found that six of the eight quakes happened when the Moon was at or near its apogee, the farthest point from Earth in its orbit.

They also compared the quakes' timing to the distance between Earth and the Moon, to test how tidal forces between the two orbs could have influenced the seismic behaviour. The researchers compared the epicenters of the said quakes with the Moon's faults images captured by NASA's orbiter. The photo below shows the Lee-Lincoln fault scarp, which measures about 80 meters (262 feet) high, as seen during the Apollo 17 moon landing in 1972.

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

"Our charge is to go quickly, and to stay, to press our collective efforts forward with a fervor that will see us return to the moon in a manner that is wholly different than 50 years ago", Shatner narrates. "As NASA acknowledges, more information and more funding will be needed to make this goal a reality, and we'll be reviewing those details as they become available".

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