Moon is Shrinking, Causing Unprecedented Quakes Near South Pole: Study

In a recent study conducted by NASA, the moon, Earth’s faithful companion, has been found to undergo significant shrinkage over the past few hundred million years. According to the January 25 report, the moon has shrunk more than 150 feet in circumference due to the gradual cooling of its core, resulting in the formation of faults and moonquakes.

Scientists from NASA, the Smithsonian, Arizona State University, and The University of Maryland collaborated on the study, utilizing data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The research discovered thousands of relatively small, young thrust faults distributed across the lunar crust, with evidence of surface changes around the Lunar South Pole, a key area for NASA’s Artemis III mission.

Lead author Tom Watters from the Smithsonian Institution highlighted the implications for human exploration, stating, “Our modelling suggests that shallow moonquakes capable of producing strong ground shaking in the south polar region are possible.” The study emphasizes the need to consider the global distribution of thrust faults and their potential activity when planning lunar outposts.

The moon’s contraction is attributed to the cooling of its interior and tidal forces from Earth, causing a process akin to the wrinkling of a grape turning into a raisin. Unlike Earth, where earthquakes last for seconds, moonquakes can endure for hours, posing challenges for future lunar missions.

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