Like a Raisin: Study Finds Earth’s Shrinking Moon is Causing Quakes


Image captured by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). This shrinkage creates "wrinkles" on the Moon's skin, except the rock isn't flexible. Scientists know the Moon is too cold and still to have plate tectonics, like Earth, which keeps our whole crust sliding around in giant, continent-sized pieces.

Last week, the world got a glimpse of one possible contender after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled Blue Moon, a mock-up of a human-class lander developed by his private space venture, Blue Origin.

A new analysis suggests that the moon may still be shrinking today and actively producing moonquakes along these thrust faults.

Scientists now believe those faults are to blame for the tremors. If they had been on Earth, the quakes would have registered between a 2 and a 5 on the Moment Magnitude scale, according to the researchers.

There are now thousands of cliffs scattered across the moon's surface, averaging a few miles long and tens of yards high. They can reach up to about 330 feet (100 meters) tall and extend for many miles. "Listeners will meet a Moon detective, tour a lab for space rocks and hear from scientists whose lives and work have been shaped by the Apollo program", according to NASA.

The researchers say that the Moon does not have any tectonic plates which can cause an quake, but it has been reporting several tectonic activities due to the gradual cooling down of the satellite's interior.

A distinctive landform known as a lobate scarp caused by a thrust fault. Image LROC NAC frame M190844037LR.

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A recent study has analyzed this quake data using an algorithm that can better estimate the quake locations. The Apollo Stories project will collate recordings that will be featured in NASA's commemorative audio series and social media accounts.

He added: 'The president has granted us 1.6 billion additional dollars, that didn't come from the science mission directorate, it didn't come from the International Space Station - 1.6 billion additional dollars for our acceleration of the lunar program so that we can get the next man and the first woman to the surface of the moon. NASA's Apollo 11 mission succeeded in landing the first humans on the moon on July 20, 1969.

The six among eight quakes happened when the Moon was at or near its apogee, the farthest point from Earth in its orbit.

At least eight are linked to thrust faults that are formed as the moon shrinks. This was presumably a result of the ground shaking, because they are also seen close to fault scarps - and have rolled or bounced down a slope.

"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. Other events such as meteorite impacts can produce quakes, but those would produce different seismic signatures. "Choosing between providing additional funding for NASA and ensuring the long-term financial security of the Pell Grant program presents a false choice".

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said, "Fifty years after Apollo, the Artemis program will carry the next man and first woman to the moon". Taking all the models together and examining images showing evidence of recent moving debris on the Moon, the researchers hypothesized that the Moon must still be tectonically active.