Lunar Mysteries Unveiled: Moon’s Contraction Triggers Landslides, Revealing Hidden Geological Secrets Beyond Earth - Media News 48

Lunar Mysteries Unveiled: Moon’s Contraction Triggers Landslides, Revealing Hidden Geological Secrets Beyond Earth

Artemis mission landing locations near the South Pole of the Moon. Blue boxes indicate selected landing spots, while small red marks are locations of scarps caused by moonquakes. Credit: NASA/ LRO/ LROC/ASU/ Smithsonian Institution

Although our Moon formed 4.5 billion years ago, it’s still evolving. The interior continues to cool and its orbit is slowly changing. As a result, the Moon has lost 150 feet of its circumference. That shrinkage contributes to near-constant moonquakes, and those trigger landslides and other surface changes. The Moon is currently uninhabited, but all that activity threatens future Artemis landing sites and missions at the South Pole.

Shrinking moon may explain lunar quakes | New Scientist

In a recent paper, planetary scientists point out that the potential of strong seismic events from active thrust faults should be a top consideration when NASA and other agencies are planning permanent outposts on the Moon. This is particularly true as the Artemis mission planners plot exploration of the South Pole. “Our modeling suggests that shallow moonquakes capable of producing strong ground shaking in the south polar region are possible from slip events on existing faults or the formation of new thrust faults,” said the study’s lead author Thomas R. Watters, a senior scientist emeritus in the National Air and Space Museum’s Center for Earth and Planetary Studies.

Shrinking Moon May Be Generating Moonquakes - NASA

“The global distribution of young thrust faults, their potential to be active, and the potential to form new thrust faults from ongoing global contraction should be considered when planning the location and stability of permanent outposts on the Moon.”

The Moon is particularly vulnerable to the large-scale effects of moonquakes. That’s because its surface is very brittle and easily broken up during a quake. One of the strongest quakes in lunar history occurred in the 1970s and lasted for hours. Such a lengthy event does quite a bit of damage to the lunar surface. So, even a light moonquake could cause significant damage via landslides.

The moon is quaking as it shrinks

Our Shaky, Shrinking Moon

Moonquakes generally happen within a hundred miles or so of the lunar surface. On Earth, that might result in a fairly mild quake. But, since the Moon’s surface is so brittle, the effects of those “shakes” are much more noticeable. According to Nicholas Schmerr, a co-author of the paper and an associate professor of geology at the University of Maryland, this means that shallow moonquakes can devastate hypothetical human settlements on the Moon.

Our shrinking moon could cause moonquakes near Artemis astronauts' landing site, scientists warn | Space

“You can think of the Moon’s surface as being dry, grounded gravel and dust,” he said. “Over billions of years, the surface has been hit by asteroids and comets, with the resulting angular fragments constantly getting ejected from the impacts,” Schmerr explained. “As a result, the reworked surface material can be micron-sized to boulder-sized, but all very loosely consolidated. Loose sediments make it very possible for shaking and landslides to occur.”

Quakes affect every part of the lunar surface. Global compressional stresses deform the surface, forcing splits and cracks to occur. These scarps—steep slopes and cliffs—exist everywhere there. In their paper, the team suggests that many are close to the epicenters of geologically recent quakes. And the regions where they occurred could still be active today. That includes the lunar South Pole.

Risks to Artemis

The team led by Watters examined data and images of the lunar South Pole and linked faults there to a major moonquake in the 1970s. The region is filled with scarps, which are prime evidence for moonquakes. Although they conclude that some regions in the area are probably safe enough for the Artemis missions, others are not. The team’s computer models show that the most dangerous areas are vulnerable to landslides triggered by seismic shaking. They continue to map the Moon and track its quakes to identify the riskiest areas for Artemis astronauts to land.

That mission could take place by the end of the decade, when NASA hopes to establish long-term habitations for research and exploration. Schmerr points out that the risks to safety from even the slightest quakes can’t be overestimated. “As we get closer to the crewed Artemis mission’s launch date, it’s important to keep our astronauts, our equipment, and infrastructure as safe as possible,” Schmerr said. “This work is helping us prepare for what awaits us on the moon—whether that’s engineering structures that can better withstand lunar seismic activity or protecting people from really dangerous zones.”

NASA believes the moon's continued shrinking could be causing strong 'moonquakes' - mlive.com

The Artemis missions essentially mark NASA’s return to human exploration of the Moon. The idea is to collaborate with both commercial partners and international agencies to make this happen. Teams of lunar astronauts will establish an Artemis Base camp, and depend on a lunar gateway to connect the mission to Earth. Eventually, what they learn there will inform the first human missions to Mars.

Related Posts

Turkey’s Kumburgaz UFO Mystery: Authentic Videos Show Clear Alien Images, Sparking Scientific Debate Over Astonishing Findings

Years have passed since Turkey’s UFO incident, and many related clues remain unverified. UFO sightings occur frequently worldwide, although most people have not witnessed these mysterious phenomena…

Unexplained Sightings: Mountain West Region Reports Wave of UFOs in March 2023, Fueling Curiosity and Conspiracy Theories

UFO sightings reported across Mountain West region (Photo courtesy of Lexie Velasquez via Chime In) Reports of UFO sightings were popping up across the Mountain West region…

Enigma in Orbit: Unraveling the Mysteries of the ‘Black Knight’ Satellite and the Secrets Hidden in Its Shadow

For decades different discoveries have been linked to a single possible spacecraft of extraterrestrial origin. An artist’s impression of the Black Knight satellite. The spacecraft has sparked…

Unprecedented UFO Breakthrough: Pentagon Official Scrutinizes Newly Released Video Frame by Frame, Declaring It ‘Truly Anomalous’

Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick, the director of the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), explains what experts look for in reported UFO sighting videos. (Senate Armed Services Committee) The…

NASA’s Secrets Revealed: Alien Hunters Claim Giant Black ‘Cube’ Near Sun Sparks UFO Cover-Up Speculations

What may look like a smudge on the picture to some, is said to be a conspiracy cover-up by others. A Martian researcher discovered a black cube…

Mysterious Encounter: Boomerang-Shaped Object Surpasses Sun on Nov 27, 2023, Raises Questions as Video Evidence Emerges

Date of sighting: Nov 27, 2023, 16:46:53Location of sighting: Earths SunSource: Helioviewer.org I was looking at objects near the sun on Helioviewer. It’s a NASA program that…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *