Published: Sun, December 01, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Quakes show that moon, gradually shrinking, is tectonically active

Quakes show that moon, gradually shrinking, is tectonically active

By tracing the moonquakes both in time and location to places where the Moon's surface is most likely to be in motion, scientists are more certain than ever that the Moon is not dead yet, and is in fact still settling its own surface, and its interactions with its closest neighbor - our own Earth. Instead the Moon, like most rocky bodies in the solar system, has a single plate that covers its whole surface. And it is going to take far more than $1.6 billion to develop and/or manufacture everything needed for the mission.

Thrust fault scarps form when the lunar crust is pushed together as the Moon contracts.

It is now widely agreed that these are thrust faults, caused as the moon cools down from its hot birth.

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. The thrust fault carries crustal materials up and sometimes over adjacent crustal materials.

The money is just one hurdle In April, Digital Journal reported that hundreds of companies, ranging from aerospace giants to the most specialized of sub-contractors, are waiting for word from NASA on a timetable for the new moon mission.

The new research tracked the epicenters of each small moonquake, and found that eight of them could be traced to within 20 miles of so-called fault scarps.

But while these features required advanced technology to see from orbit, they're easily visible from the ground.

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The team discovered that of the 28 detected shallow quakes, eight are close to (within 30km of) fault scarps, suggesting these faults may indeed be active.

Over time, the lunar surface darkens due to weathering and radiation, so bright spots are areas where recent activity has exposed areas on the lunar surface. From an analysis of the timing of these eight events, we found that six occurred when the Moon was less than 15,000km from the apogee distance.

The timing of the moonquakes was also important: numerous quakes occurred when the Moon was at or near its apogee - the furthest point in its orbit from Earth - when the tidal stresses on the rocky orb are at their highest.

We've known that the moon shudders since four seismometers were placed on its surface during the latter stages of the Apollo program.

Scientists have since created a new algorithm to process this data and provide a better understanding of where the moonquakes are coming from. Heading to the Moon within five years was not something NASA was prepared to do. According to Watters, planners of future missions to the moon will probably need to consider this if they intend to build permanent structures in the lunar surface.

"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. "But this is a good amount that gets us out of the gate in a very strong fashion".

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