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MoneyMoon appears to be active below the surface, scientists say

19:17  15 may  2019
19:17  15 may  2019 Source:   washingtonpost.com

Moonquakes measured during Apollo missions suggest the Moon may still be tectonically active, study finds

Moonquakes measured during Apollo missions suggest the Moon may still be tectonically active, study finds Rumblings under the lunar surface captured by Apollo-era equipment might be signs that the Moon is still tectonically active, researchers say. The Moon was previously thought to be fairly geologically quiet, but a study published today in Nature Geoscience found moonquakes in the 1960s and 70s occurred near fault scarps, or small cliffs created by movement between fractured parts of the Moon's surface. This is more than a coincidence — the quakes were likely caused by slipping at these fracture points, said the study's lead author Tom Watters of the Smithsonian Institution.

Some tremors deep below the surface likely were caused by Earth’s gravitational pull. The model is bolstered by what appears to be recent surface shifting of boulders near these faults. Even though the moon lacks tectonic plates, he said , the team’s use of the phrase “tectonically active ” is sound

Gravity measurements taken by the craft align with the presence of a sea 20 to 25 miles below the moon ’s surface , scientists say . The challenges are to make sure that the interesting particles would not break apart, to take precautions that any alien life would not infect Earth, and to fit it into the

Moon appears to be active below the surface, scientists say © Ho/AFP/Getty Images This mosaic of many images taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter shows wrinkle ridges in a region of the Moon called Mare Frigoris. These ridges add to evidence that the moon has an actively changing surface.

The moon may be dynamic and tectonically active like Earth based on a new analysis revealed Monday of quakes measured by seismometers on the moon from 1969 and 1977.

Researchers examining the seismic data gathered during NASA’s Apollo missions traced the location of some of the quakes to step-shaped cliffs called scarps on the lunar surface that formed relatively recently, in geological terms, because of the ongoing shrinking of the moon as its hot interior cools.

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You can change this preference below . Researchers examined data from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper, a spectrometer aboard the Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter from India, and found evidence of water in almost all large pyroclastic deposits that had previously been mapped across the surface of

Scientists believed the moon was dry when the Apollo missions started in the 1960s. That thinking changed in 2008 when volcanic glass beads brought back Scientists at Brown took another look at images of the moon 's surface retrieved from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper, an imaging spectrometer

“It means that the moon has somehow managed to remain tectonically active after 4.51 billion years,” said Smithsonian Institution planetary scientist Thomas Watters, who led the research published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Earth’s tectonic activity is driven by its hot interior. The moon, which orbits our planet at a distance of about 239,000 miles, has a diameter of about 2,160 miles, a bit more than a quarter of Earth’s diameter.

Images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter showed that the moon has delicately shriveled as its interior has cooled over the eons, like a plump grape transforming into a smaller raisin. As a result, it has acquired thousands of small surface wrinkles in the form of surface features called thrust-fault scarps.

New study suggests the Moon may be shrinking

New study suggests the Moon may be shrinking Earth isn't the only place that "quakes." Rocky planets and moons regularly experience similar movements, and faults can form between massive chunks of crust on other worlds the same as they can here on Earth.Related 

Scientists believed the moon was dry when the Apollo missions started in the 1960s. That thinking changed in 2008 when volcanic glass beads brought back Scientists at Brown took another look at images of the moon 's surface retrieved from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper, an imaging spectrometer

Scientists believed the moon was dry when the Apollo missions started in the 1960s. That thinking changed in 2008 when volcanic glass beads brought back Scientists at Brown took another look at images of the moon 's surface retrieved from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper, an imaging spectrometer

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These faults push one part of the lunar crust up and over the adjoining part, said University of Maryland geologist and study co-author Nicholas Schmerr. They can reach up to about 330 feet tall and extend for many miles.

“This is exciting as it wasn’t clear if the moon had already gone through this period billions of years ago and was tectonically dead, or if it was still active in the present,” Schmerr said.

U.S. astronauts placed seismometers on the lunar surface during the Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15 and 16 missions, recording 28 shallow quakes up to almost 5 magnitude, which is moderate strength. Eight quakes occurred close to faults. Other events such as meteorite impacts can produce quakes, but those would produce different seismic signatures.

Boulder movements and disturbed soil near the scarps also indicated tectonic activity.

Watters said experts must be mindful that quakes may strike near these scarps when planning sites for future lunar exploration and a long-term human presence on the moon.

The moon is not the solar system’s only object shrinking with age. The innermost planet, Mercury, boasts many thrust faults.

NASA’s initiative to put a woman on the Moon is named Artemis, after Apollo’s twin sister.
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