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Mare Frigoris Moon

Scientists detect shrinking and quaking of the moon

Mankind has just received some unsettling news and it is about the Earth’s only natural satellite, the Moon. An analysis of the 2010 imagery from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) found that some parts of the moon were shrivelled with prominent thrusts and cliffs as its interior cooled. After analyzing these images from 2010, it was found out that the moon is still shrinking and is experiencing moonquakes as recorded by the seismic data recorder of the moon, it also suggests that these faults are due to the moonquakes.

Nicholas Schmerr, an assistant professor of geology at the University of Maryland has developed another algorithm to re-analyze and further analyze the seismic data from instruments of NASA’s Apollo Missions with which he thinks he will be able to find the epicentre of these quakes based on data of 28 moonquakes.

The LRO images have suggested that the formation of these thrust faults is due to tectonic activity and movement of crustal plates and not because of any external factors like asteroids impacts etc.

A paper published in the journal Nature Geosciences which was co-authored by Nicholas Schmerr suggests moon is experiencing such quakes even today. The LRO images and seismic activity suggest that the moonquakes occur along the areas of the thrust plates and it is active even today.

The Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15 and 16 missions with seismic devices recorded around 28 quakes on Moon from 1969 to 1977, which had an equivalent magnitude of 2 to 5 on Earth. The 8 epicentres of these quakes were found within the 19 miles of the fault lines.

Schmerr is modelling shake maps derived from the moonquakes data which predict where the strongest shaking could occur, given the thrust faults. Out of these 8 quakes, 6 have happened at its apogee. Apogee is a point where the moon is farthest from the Earth. The reduction from Earth’s crust causes additional slipping of the thrust faults.

Wrinkles are being formed on the surface of moon due to its brittle nature just like in raisins as they dry, on moon one section of the crust is pushed up against another section which may go up to tens of yards high.

The LRO has imaged 3,500 fault thrusts on the moon and its nearby terrain has shown possibilities of landslides and big boulders crashing down and relatively bright patches due to erosion near these thrust faults.

The team is looking to analyze the pictures of these patches on the moon and study the data with more recent findings. Schmerr has also suggested that with a large network of modern seismograms we can make huge strides in understanding the moon’s geology.

How would be the moonquake experience? I think it would be pretty different for us because of the gravity difference. What do you think? Tell us with a quick and short comment

Read more news about the moon: Water molecules found on the moon


Moon Water LRO Image

Water molecules found hopping on the moon’s surface by NASA

NASA has recently spotted layers of water molecules on the moon’s surface by the spacecraft Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The LRO has observed water molecules moving around during dayside on Moon. It was astonishing as scientists thought that the Moon was dry and arid, water only exists in the form of shaded craters near the poles.

According to the paper published in Geophysical Research Letters, The instrument Lyman Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) was responsible for measuring sparse layer of molecules temporarily stuck to the Moon’s surface, which helped to measure lunar hydration, changes over the course of a day.

Scientists have discovered surface water in sparse populations of molecules bound to the lunar soil, or regolith. But, the amount and locations were found to vary based on the time of day. The lunar water is more common at higher latitudes and tends to bounce around when the temperature of surface soars up.

Earlier the scientists had assumed that hydrogen ions in the solar wind may be the source of most of the Moon’s surface water. But when the Moon passes behind the Earth and is shielded from the solar wind, the “water spigot” should necessarily turn off.

Surprisingly, the water identified by LAMP does not decrease when the Moon is shielded by the Earth and the region influenced by its magnetic field, suggesting water builds up over time, rather than “raining” down directly from the solar wind.

John Keller, LRO deputy project scientist from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland said, “The study is an important step in advancing the water story on the Moon and is a result of years of accumulated data from the LRO mission”.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter LRO

Artist concept of NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. (Credit: NASA)

Dr. Kurt Retherford, the principal investigator of the LAMP instrument from Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas addressed, “This is an important new result about lunar water, a hot topic as our nation’s space program returns to a focus on lunar exploration. We recently converted the LAMP’s light collection mode to measure reflected signals on the lunar dayside with more precision, allowing us to track more accurately where the water is and how much is present.”

“These results aid in understanding the lunar water cycle and will ultimately help us learn about the accessibility of water that can be used by humans in future missions to the Moon,” said lead author Amanda Hendrix, a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute and lead author of the paper.

“Lunar water can potentially be used by humans to make fuel or to use for radiation shielding or thermal management; if these materials do not need to be launched from Earth, that makes these future missions more affordable,” she added.

Published Researchhttps://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2018GL081821