Our Moon Is Getting Smaller

The moon is shrinking like a grape — and that may be causing ‘moonquakes,’ NASA says | The Kansas City Star

An analysis of photos from NASA's spacecraft Lunar Reconnaissance Arbitrator (LRO) have shown that the Moon is continuously shrinking. Researchers led by Thomas Watters, from the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., published their findings Monday in Nature Geoscience.

During five Apollo missions, astronauts set up seismometers on the moon.

John Keller, who is one of the authors of the study and is a Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter project scientist at NASA's Goodard Space Flight Centre said in a statement that it was brilliant how data from 50 years back were combined to advance the understanding of the Moon. This causes its surface to wrinkle.

"It's really remarkable to see how data from almost 50 years ago and from the LRO mission has been combined to advance our understanding of the Moon", LRO Project Scientist John Keller said in a statement, adding that it also guides future missions on the interiors of the moon.

"We found that a number of the quakes recorded in the Apollo data happened very close to the faults seen in the LRO imagery", Nicholas Schmerr, an assistant professor of geology at the University of Maryland and co-author of the study, said in a press release.

Stuff.co.nz writes that six of the eight moonquakes recorded near the faults took place when the Moon was at its farthest point from Earth in its orbit.

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There have been a range of theories about what causes quakes, including meteorite collisions or gravitational forces exerted by the Earth and sun.

Scientists have identified what they call -thrust cracks, - where a section of the Moon's crust slides over a nearby part. Instead, as the moon's interior has cooled over the last several hundred million years. Hopefully scientists will put more seismometers on the Moon to better localise the source of these quakes. Researchers believe that these quakes would have measured between 2 and 5 in the "Moment Magnitude scale" if they had been on earth.

According to NASA's images, this process has caused the moon to shrink about 50 meters, or about 164 feet, in diameter from what it was back in 1972.

Additionally, one of the revised moonquake epicenters is just 13 kilometers (8 miles) from the Lee-Lincoln scarp traversed by the Apollo 17 astronauts.

Bridenstine also said that the $1.6 billion in additional funding was in line with what the agency requested of the White House, despite reports that NASA sought much more money. The astronauts also examined boulders on the slope of North Massif that was near to where the astronauts landed. The innermost planet Mercury boasts numerous thrust faults. NASA will also be incorporating the next generation of space capsules, the Orion, which will be created to transport astronauts to and from the Moon.

According to the Office of Management and Budget, the extra money for the moon mission would come from surplus funding for Pell grants, the financial aid program for low-income college students.

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