Moon More Seismically Active Than Assumed

A distinctive landform known as a lobate scarp caused by a thrust fault. Image captured by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

A distinctive landform known as a lobate scarp caused by a thrust fault. Image captured by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

A fault scarp detected by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The valley was explored in 1972 by the Apollo 17 mission astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt.

As the moon's interior cools, it shrinks, which causes its hard surface to crack and form fault lines, according to research sponsored by NASA.

The stories will be integrated into an audio series called NASA Explorers: Apollo, which will also include interviews with experts about the Apollo program, explanations about the scientific influence of the mission, and discussion of the broader cultural impact of the moon over the last 50 years.

Our Moon is getting cooler, causing it to shrink. As the interior shrinks the hard crusty, brittle exterior breaks causing "thrust faults" where one section of the crust is pushed up over a neighboring part. Additionally, "Establishing a new network of seismometers on the lunar surface should be a priority for human exploration of the Moon, both to learn more about the Moon's interior and to determine how much of a hazard moonquakes present", said co-author Renee Weber, a planetary seismologist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

QUAKES: The moonquakes measure from about 2 to 5 on the Richter scale.

According to the budget amendment, another $650 million of the additional funding would help NASA to develop the next-generation Space Launch System (SLS)-the most powerful rocket in the world-and Orion, the agency's new spacecraft, which will ultimately take astronauts to the Gateway.

Astronauts have described these fault marks as a step-shaped cliff.

This prominent lunar lobate thrust fault scarp is one of thousands discovered in Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) images.

NASA revealed Monday that it needs an additional $1.6 billion in funding for fiscal year 2020 to stay on track for a human return to the Moon by 2024. Image LROC NAC frame M190844037LR. The algorithm gave a better estimate of moonquake locations.

In the 1960s and 1970s, astronauts placed five seismometers on the moon's surface. They found that eight of those shallow quakes were located within 19 miles of thrust faults visible in LRO lunar images. Eight quakes occurred close to faults. The fact that these moonquakes occur at or near-apogee, when the Moon is most distant from us, imply that they are related to tidal forces exerted by gravity.

Bridenstine said that NASA's timeline for the lunar mission had been sped up with a Mars mission in mind. Movement on the fault was the likely source of numerous moonquakes that triggered events in the valley. "I don't know. We'd have to look at that when it happens".

The Apollo seismometers measured lots of seismic activity, from meteorite-induced vibrations to rumbles as the cold crust expanded once the Sun began shining at the end of a lunar night. Tectonic pushing and pulling of the moon's crust also resulted in lobate scarps (curved hills) and graben (shallow trenches).

"Our charge is to go quickly, and to stay, to press our collective efforts forward with a fervor that will see us return to the moon in a manner that is wholly different than 50 years ago", Shatner narrates.

Researchers have long suspected the Moon might still be active.

Trump announced all of his intentions in a series of tweets, which was later confirmed Monday evening, May 13 by the USA space agency and Office of Management and Budget.

The study is published on May 14 in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Latest News