The Moon is shrinking

Clay Curtis
May 14, 2019

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. Because the moon doesn't have plate tectonics like Earth, moonquakes are believed to be caused by the cooling of the lunar interior, as well as Earth's gravity.

Much as a grape wrinkles as it dries to become a raisin, the moon also wrinkles as its interior cools and shrinks.

There are now thousands of cliffs scattered across the moon's surface, averaging a few miles long and tens of yards high.

Most of the rest- $651 million - would go to SLS and Orion "to make sure they stay on track", Gerstenmaier said. 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. Meteor strikes, like those that caused the Moon's most distinctive features, still rain down today, so astronomers couldn't be sure whether the Moon was shaking itself, or being shaken by external forces. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) has imaged over 3,500 of the fault scarps.

Data from the seismometers placed on the moon during the Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15 and 16 missions revealed 28 moonquakes recorded between 1969 and 1977.

Despite the apparent intensity felt by those stood on the lunar surface when the waves rippled beneath their feet, the epicentre locations of these quakes were poorly constrained by data collected at the time.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on the agency's plans to use a commercial rocket for the next Orion crew capsule and the possibility a woman could be the next person to walk on the Moon.

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It would also boost technologies to help the agency explore the lunar poles with robots ahead of a human mission, using solar energy as a propulsion source and converting ice found under the moon's crust into water.

The study was published on Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience.

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.

The recent research has been all about drawing a direct connection between the quakes and the "staircase on the Moon".

The moonquakes recorded aren't minor, they are "fairly strong, around five on the Richter scale". 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. This seismic data was re-analyzed with images from NASA's lunar orbiter. The images also show that boulders on the moon have moved in recent decades, which indicates seismic activity.

"We will once again astonish the world as we boldly go to meet our future in the skies and in the stars", Pence said during a speech to the National Space Council in October 2017. "We learned a lot from the Apollo missions, but they really only scratched the surface".

NASA's next mission to the Moon will be called Artemis, the USA space agency announced Monday, though it's still looking for the money to make the journey happen by its accelerated 2024 deadline.

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