May 26, 2019

Earth’s moon is shrinking and quaking, study says

15 May 2019, 04:28 | Edward Lowe

SHRIVELLING The Moon is wrinkling like a raisin as its core shrinks

SHRIVELLING The Moon is wrinkling like a raisin as its core shrinks

"This is exciting as it wasn't clear if the moon had already gone through this period billions of years ago and was tectonically dead, or if it was still active in the present", Schmerr said.

NASA's associate administrator for human exploration and operations, Bill Gerstenmaier, said the architecture for the Artemis program would be open to commercial and worldwide partners.

Today the moon is 50 meters "skinnier" because of this process. It is surrounded by a liquid outer core, a viscous mantle, and the outer crust.

Unlike the Earth, the Moon does not have tectonic plates.

All these slow and bulky movements produce geological activity like volcanoes and earthquakes.

The finding could mean astronomers do not know the full story of how small, rocky bodies cool off. The entire lunar surface is just one hard solid shell. The fault scarp or cliff is like a stair-step in the lunar landscape (left-pointing white arrows) formed when the near-surface crust is pushed together, breaks, and is thrust upward along a fault as the Moon contracts.

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The New York Times' Robin George Andrews reports that there were explanations for numerous shakes. Meteorite collisions caused some, others were attributed to Earth's gravitational pull and others were caused by huge 500-degree temperature changes on the moon when night turns to day.

The phenomenon is similar to a grape shrinking into a raisin, a report from NASA describes. Sometimes, the surface rises to form a mini cliff called a "scarp".

The 2024 mission, called Artemis, after the Greek goddess of the moon and twin sister of Apollo, will be the first mission to the moon in almost five decades.

The moon is slowly shrinking over time, which is causing wrinkles in its crust and moonquakes, according to photos captured by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Last week, the world got a glimpse of one possible contender after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled Blue Moon, a mock-up of a human-class lander developed by his private space venture, Blue Origin.

It turns out these faults keep the moon tectonically active, generating relatively strong quakes up to about a magnitude 5 on the Richter scale.

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It came as a surprise to scientists when NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter captured more than 3,500 images of faults on the surface that are younger than 50 million years old. They found that eight of the 28 recorded shallow quakes originated very close to faults visible in lunar images.

Of the 28 quakes, eight were within 30 kilometres of scarps. The researchers surmised that if the scarps were only forming because of the Moon shrinking, there would be a global presence of lunar scarps.

But they ran in a fixed pattern: Near the poles, they ran east to west, while near the equator, they ran north to south. "We got what we requested in order to achieve 2024".

Of the eight located near scarps, five were during the apogee.

Bridenstine also answered the question of why go back to the Moon.

Bridenstine also insisted the moon funding is dedicated only to that and is not being shifted from other priorities. In addition to being the goddess of the moon, Artemis was also the goddess of the hunt, with Orion her hunting companion. And once in a while, there's a crack and a thundering quake slips out into the low-gravity environment, deadlier than it would be on Earth.

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