The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently released new data that suggests that the Moon is shaking and shrinking.
Scientists previously found that when the inside of the Moon cools, it shrinks up. This leaves the moon with “thrust faults” marked over its surface. This new data by NASA missions now suggests that the Moon can still be experiencing shrinking effects today. The cliff-like marks on the moon as a result of these may also be causing moonquakes that cause rocks to shake.
The lead author of the research paper and senior scientist in the Centre for Earth and Planetary Studies at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, Thomas Watters said:
“We think it’s very likely that these eight quakes were produced by faults slipping as stress built up when the lunar crust was compressed by global contraction and tidal forces, indicating that the Apollo seismometers recorded the shrinking moon and the moon is still tectonically active.”
The process compares to the way grapes can wrinkle up as they cool and then shrink again. However, the crust around the moon cannot stretch like the grape’s skin, so it brittles instead. This makes it break apart instead as the shrinking occurs.
When the crust moves around, the faults form and one part of the crust pushes over the other. They now begin to form weird-shaped cliffs that can be seen from the Moon’s surface. These cliffs are many miles long and stand very tall.
An algorithm that processed seismic data, taken in the 1960s and 1970s, made the new research possible. The location data was then generated and laid on top of the images of the thrust faults. This was taken from a 2010 study hat used pictured from “Nasa’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.”
Scientists also discovered that at least eight of the rubble came from the movement of plates under the Moon’s surface. It was nothing to do with asteroid impacts. This helped to confirm that the Moon was experiencing true tectonic activities.
Scientists think that the shaking and shrinking are still happening the way the Apollo astronauts once suggested in their 1977 work. The new images show evidence of recent movements. There were signs of landslides and boulders fallen recently.
An assistant professor of geology at the University of Maryland, Nicolas Schmerr, said,
“We found that a number of the quakes recorded in the Apollo data happened very close to the faults seen in the LRO imagery. It’s quite likely that the faults are still active today. You don’t often get to see active tectonics anywhere but Earth, so it’s very exciting to think these faults may still be producing moonquakes.”
Since this new revelation, scientists are now more excited at the prospect of going to the Moon again to explore these occurrences. The American government has also recently ordered NASA to go back to the moon soon. This they hope to achieve in the next five years.
Under my Administration, we are restoring @NASA to greatness and we are going back to the Moon, then Mars. I am updating my budget to include an additional $1.6 billion so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 13, 2019