Published: Wed, May 15, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Moon's Shrinking May Be Causing Moonquakes

Moon's Shrinking May Be Causing Moonquakes

As the Moon cools, it shrinks - and the Moon's diameter has shrunk approximately 150 feet over the past several hundred million years, according to NASA. These are cliffs caused by the Moon's surface shearing away from itself, thanks to long-term shrinking and contracting of the surface.

"Unlike the flexible skin on a grape, the moon's surface crust is brittle, so it breaks as the moon shrinks, forming "thrust faults" where one section of crust is pushed up over a neighboring part", NASA continued.

Watters said some of the quakes "can be fairly strong" - as high as a 5 on the Richter scale.

The last manned Moon landing happened in 1972, as part of the Apollo 17 mission.

By looking at the size and location of the tremors, the algorithm estimates the epicenter of the moonquakes.

It is measured on a machine called a seismograph.

According to a study published in Nature Geoscience, the Apollo missions observed the natural disaster shocks on the Moon.

The initiative to land the first American woman and next American man on the moon was named Artemis after the Greek goddess and twin sister of Apollo.

During the study, researchers analyzed 28 moonquakes from 1969 to 1977 and found that eight of these quakes were the result of pure tectonic activities. This position, known as the moon's apogee put the moon under extra tidal stress from Earth's gravity making movement events on the moon's fault lines more likely. They found it is less than 4 percent.

But researchers began to suspect that the mystery quakes were caused by active faults in 2009 when examining images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, reports Adam Mann for National Geographic.

Astronauts would launch to the gateway and transfer to a lunar orbiter with a descent/ascent vehicle. The bright patches have been exposed to this radiation only recently hence the existence of boulders and landslides is evidence of recent moonquakes. Over time, the lunar surface darkens due to weathering and radiation, so bright spots are areas where recent activity has exposed areas on the lunar surface. At the time, however, we didn't have enough data to map those quakes to specific features on the Moon itself.

US President Donald Trump has challenged NASA to send astronauts to the moon by 2024. The fault scarps themselves are also a clue.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Tuesday morning at a conference in Washington, D.C., that the amount was at the low-end of what it would take to get back to the moon in 2024.

The Moon isn't the only world in our solar system experiencing some shrinkage with age.

The LRO imaged more than 3,500 fault scarps on the Moon.

"As you know, the President has given our agency the bold charge to land the next man and the first woman on the lunar south pole by 2024, and now President Trump has extended his vote of confidence in our work with an amended budget request for fiscal year 2020", said Bridenstine in a video address to employees.

The White House's amended budget request comes a week after Jeff Bezos unveiled a lunar lander that his space company, Blue Origin, has pitched NASA to get cargo and eventually people to the lunar surface. "We learned a lot from the Apollo missions, but they really only scratched the surface".

In addition to the groundbreaking research, NASA hopes that this new exploration will inspire the next generation of scientists. Notably, there are no proposed cuts to the science mission directorate, which oversees all of NASA's science missions, or the International Space Station program. The LROC is managed at Arizona State University in Tempe.

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