The moon, a steadfast companion, graces the night sky as a loyal friend of the Earth. With its gentle glow, it illuminates the darkness with a connection that transcends the vastness of space. The Earth and Moon – both billions of years old – dance together in cosmic harmony, orchestrating the celestial symphony of our universe. But now, a new study by NASA has revealed that the Moon has been silently undergoing changes, shrinking in size dramatically over the past few hundred million years.
the Study January 25 He says the Moon's circumference shrank by more than 150 feet as its core gradually cooled over the time period in question. This continuous contraction leads to the formation of faults that cause moonquakes. This will make human exploration difficult, in the same way as for those who live near fault lines on Earth.
The study was conducted by scientists from NASA, the Smithsonian Institution, Arizona State University, and the University of Maryland. It discovered evidence that the ongoing contraction has led to some surface changes around the moon's south pole, where NASA hopes to land during the manned Artemis III mission.
“Our models suggest that shallow lunar earthquakes capable of generating strong ground shaking in the Antarctic region are possible from strike-slip events on existing faults or the formation of new thrust faults,” said lead author Tom Watters, of the Smithsonian Institution. Planetary Science Journal.
“The global distribution of emerging thrust faults, their ability to be active, and the potential for new thrust faults to form from ongoing global contraction must be taken into account when planning the location and stability of permanent lunar outposts,” he added.
Researchers used the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera aboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) to detect thousands of relatively small, widely distributed thrust faults in the lunar crust.
The contraction is caused by the cooling of the Moon's still-hot interior and tidal forces exerted by the Earth, leading to global contraction.
The shrinkage process is compared to the wrinkling of grapes as they become raisins. While grapes have a flexible skin, moonshine has a brittle surface, causing cracks to form as parts of the skin push against each other.
Shallow lunar earthquakes occur at a depth of about 100 miles or so in the moon's crust. But unlike our planet, where earthquakes last only a few seconds, moonquakes can last for hours and even an entire afternoon.
“Infuriatingly humble alcohol fanatic. Unapologetic beer practitioner. Analyst.”