Space stunner: Moon is shrinking, shocking study reveals

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According to a new research study, the Moon may be shrinking as it experiences lunar quakes, known as "moonquakes". The scarps form when one section of the Moon's crust (left-pointing arrows) is pushed up over an adjacent section (right-pointing arrows) as the Moon's interior cools and shrinks. On Earth, the quakes would have ranged in magnitude from about 2 to 5. They had to zig-zag their lunar rover up and over the cliff face of the Lee-Lincoln fault scarp that cuts across this valley.

The study is published on May 14 in the journal Nature Geoscience.

By looking at the size and location of the tremors, the algorithm estimates the epicenter of the moonquakes.

When scientists mapped the origins of the moonquakes recorded by the Apollo seismometers, they found eight of the 28 shallow quakes were within 18 miles of a visible lunar fault. Then, researchers compared the location of the epicentres for those quakes with more than 12,000 orbiter images of the thrusts faults. Researchers analyzed 28 moonquakes from 1969 to 1977 and came up with the startling observation that eight of the quakes came from "true tectonic activity - the movement of crustal plates", as opposed to impacts from asteroids or rumblings inside the celestial satellite.

It's believed these slip-events - much like landslides - were caused by additional tidal stress heightened by the Earth's gravity. If this is correct, the discovery demonstrates that the moon pursues to be tectonically active today. It has taken images of more than 3500 thrust faults.

The moon's interior is gradually cooling down, causing it to slowly shrivel up like a raisin, and causing "moonquakes", NASA said this week.

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The discovery of young faults less than 50 million years old by the LSO's camera in 2010 has been interpreted as evidence of lunar tectonic activity. These faults resemble small stair-shaped cliffs, or scarps, when seen from the lunar surface.

According to a study published in Nature Geoscience, the Apollo missions observed the natural disaster shocks on the Moon.

NASA plans on sending "the first woman" and "next man" to the moon by 2024, via the Lunar Gateway.

Prof Schmerr said: "For me, these findings emphasise we need to go back to the Moon".

"They use a lot of statistical arguments, and I think they do good science, but I wouldn't say it's definitely there", Ceri Nunn of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, not involved in the study, tells Mann.

John Keller, who is one of the authors of the study and is a Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter project scientist at NASA's Goodard Space Flight Centre said in a statement that it was brilliant how data from 50 years back were combined to advance the understanding of the Moon.