The Moon is shrinking - study

2019-05-16 07:55
A view of the moon in Cannes, southern France. (Laurent Emmanuel, AFP)

A view of the moon in Cannes, southern France. (Laurent Emmanuel, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

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.

A survey of more than 12 000 images revealed that lunar basin Mare Frigoris near the Moon's north pole - one of many vast basins long assumed to be dead sites from a geological point of view - has been cracking and shifting.

Unlike our planet, the Moon doesn't have tectonic plates; instead, its tectonic activity occurs as it slowly loses heat from when it was formed 4.5 billion years ago.

This in turn causes its surface to wrinkle, similar to a grape that shrivels into a raisin.

Since the moon's crust is brittle, these forces cause its surface to break as the interior shrinks, resulting in so-called thrust faults, where one section of crust is pushed up over an adjacent section.

As a result, the Moon has become about 50m "skinnier" over the past several hundred million years.

The Apollo astronauts first began measuring seismic activity on the Moon in the 1960s and 1970s, finding the vast majority were occurred deep in the body's interior while a smaller number were on its surface.

The analysis was published in Nature Geoscience and examined the shallow moonquakes recorded by the Apollo missions, establishing links between them and very young surface features.

"It's quite likely that the faults are still active today," said Nicholas Schmerr, an assistant professor of geology at the University of Maryland who co-authored the study.

"You don't often get to see active tectonics anywhere but Earth, so it's very exciting to think these faults may still be producing moonquakes."

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    astronomy
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.