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Space & Astronomy

The Moon is cooling, shrinking and shaking

By T.K. Randall
May 14, 2019 · Comment icon 12 comments



The Moon appears to have been getting smaller. Image Credit: NASA
A new study has revealed that our lunar neighbor is getting smaller and experiences strong 'moonquakes'.
According to the research, the Moon has shrunk by approximately 50 meters over the last several hundred million years due to the gradual, ongoing cooling of its interior.

This, in turn, has made it slightly wrinkled (a bit like a raisin), which has created 'thrust faults' and caused sections of the crust to push up against other sections - producing moonquakes.

These lunar quakes are surprising strong - measuring up to five on the Richter scale.
"Our analysis gives the first evidence that these faults are still active and likely producing moonquakes today as the Moon continues to gradually cool and shrink," said senior scientist Thomas Watters from the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies.

The study looked at data collected by seismometers that were placed on the lunar surface by the Apollo astronauts between 1969 and 1977. The researchers were able to determine that 8 of the moonquakes picked up by these devices occurred in the vicinity of visible faults.

"We think it's very likely that these eight quakes were produced by faults slipping as stress built up when the lunar crust was compressed by global contraction and tidal forces, indicating that the Apollo seismometers recorded the shrinking Moon and the Moon is still tectonically active," said Watters.

Source: Stuff.co.nz | Comments (12)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #3 Posted by RoofGardener 3 years ago
I'd go along with what Piney just said, even though he HAS changed his avatar to something rather sinister.  The radius of the moon, and any seismic activity, will have no effect on the MASS of the moon. Hence its orbit, and its tidal effects, will be unchanged. 
Comment icon #4 Posted by Piney 3 years ago
Bunnies are the spawn of demons and truly evil creatures.  
Comment icon #5 Posted by RoofGardener 3 years ago
Well.. yes.. .that's OBVIOUS. Everyone knows THAT !
Comment icon #6 Posted by XenoFish 3 years ago
I thought everyone knew that the moon was made of low fat cheese.
Comment icon #7 Posted by RoofGardener 3 years ago
That is utter RUBBISH @XenoFish. The moon is NOT made of low-fat cheese. You should be ASHAMED at promulgating such an unscientific and supersticious theory.  EVERYONE knows it is made of good old-fashioned, full fat, Chedder !  
Comment icon #8 Posted by freetoroam 3 years ago
Look at you going all low fat healthy eat well eat cardboard on us. I have seen the cows on the moon and the cheese is not low fat. 
Comment icon #9 Posted by Seti42 3 years ago
There is truth here.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Piney 3 years ago
By the Dark Lord!  I want that hanging in our library. 
Comment icon #11 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 3 years ago
Okay people, any chance of getting back on topic please.
Comment icon #12 Posted by joc 3 years ago
“For me, these findings emphasize that we need to go back to the moon,” Schmerr said. “We learned a lot from the Apollo missions, but they really only scratched the surface. With a larger network of modern seismometers, we could make huge strides in our understanding of the moon’s geology. This provides some very promising low-hanging fruit for science on a future mission to the moon.” I heard yesterday that NASA plans to be back on the moon by 2024 and they want women on the team.  Is that a doable timeline?


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