Space & Astronomy
Scientists determine cause of unexpected movement on the Moon
By T.K. Randall
September 12, 2023 · 0 comments
Gene Cernan on the lunar surface during the Apollo 17 mission. Image Credit: NASA / Harrison Schmitt
Something is producing movement on the surface of the Moon, but the explanation is probably not what you think.
When Apollo 17 landed on the Moon in 1972, NASA astronauts Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt left behind the Lunar Seismic Profiling Experiment (LSPE) - a set of geophones designed to pick up even the slightest hints of seismic activity.
These sensors have since picked up frequent examples of 'moonquakes' - subtle tremors caused by the surface temperature variations that occur between night and day.
Meteorite impacts on the surface can also be a cause of such seismic detections.
More recently, however, scientists working with geophysicist Allen Husker of the California University of Technology noticed that regular seismic activity detected in the mornings on the Moon did not conform to what would be expected from the regular day and night cycle alone.
What's more, by triangulating the source of this errant activity, the researchers were able to determine that it was coming from the descent stage of the Apollo 17 lunar module itself.
It turned out that the lander base, which is essentially an octagonal prism 14ft across, was also warming and cooling over the course of each day, thus producing the anomalous seismic data.
It is hoped that the data from this discovery will help NASA plan for future manned excursions of the lunar surface via its ambitious new Artemis program.
Source: WIO news
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