NASA says the moon is shrinking and experiencing "moonquakes"

An image depicting the moons tectonic plates

"Unlike the flexible skin on a grape, the moon's surface crust is brittle, so it breaks as the moon shrinks, forming "thrust faults" where one section of crust is pushed up over a neighboring part", NASA continued.

The Moon is steadily shrinking, causing wrinkling on its surface and quakes, according to an analysis of imagery captured by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) published on Monday. These faults resemble small stair-shaped cliffs, or scarps, when seen from the lunar surface; each is roughly tens of yards high and a few miles long.

Shortly after Pence's announcement, in which he said astronauts would get to the lunar surface "by any means necessary", there was talk that the White House would ask for a huge amount of additional funding, as much as $8 billion a year. The algorithm gave a better estimate of moonquake locations.

A total of five seismometers were placed on the Moon's surface by crewmembers of Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15 and 16.

The Apollo 11 seismometer operated only for three weeks, but the four remaining instruments recorded 28 shallow moonquakes from 1969 to 1977. The quakes ranged from 2 to 5 on the Richter scale. They found that at least eight of the moonquakes matched nearly perfectly with scarps, suggesting that they were produced by genuine tectonic activity, rather than processes deep within the moon's interior or from asteroid impacts. They found that the epicenters of eight quakes were near young faults and occurred when tidal stress on the moon was the greatest, suggesting that the moon is still cooling and causing these thrust faults to form. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) took more than 3,500 images of fault scarps and in some of these landslides or boulders can be seen at the bottom of bright patches on the slopes of fault scarps or nearby terrain.

While NASA originally hoped to launch in 2028, following completion of the Gateway lunar station, the Trump Administration is now pushing for a '24 moon landing-hence the additional funding request.

The surface of the moon from 342 miles (550 kilometers) away.

In a press release, NASA said, "To land American astronauts on the Moon by 2024, we are working through the acquisition approach for the various projects".

The Moon isn't the only world in our solar system experiencing some shrinkage with age. Such tracks would be erased relatively quickly, in terms of geologic time, by the constant rain of micrometeoroid impacts on the Moon. Instead, the Moon would contract as it loses heat, causing the land to rift and crack along faults.

NASA plans on sending "the first woman" and "next man" to the moon by 2024, via the Lunar Gateway.

"The whole idea that a 4.6-billion-year-old rocky body like the moon has managed to stay hot enough in the interior and produce this network of faults just flies in the face of conventional wisdom", Watters said.

"Under my Administration, we are restoring @NASA to greatness and we are going back to the Moon, then Mars", he wrote.

The decision to bolster NASA's budget had been announced earlier today in a series of tweets in which Mr Trump promised a new era of space exploration. LRO is managed by NASA Goddard for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Image credit: NASA / GSFC / Arizona State University / Smithsonian Institution.



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