NASA study reveals Moon shrinks continuously causing quakes on its surface

The Moon has shrunk by 150 feet in the past several million years.


NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has beamed back an image of the Moon which shows that the Earth's natural satellite is steadily shrinking which causes wrinkling on its surface and quakes.

NASA study reveals Moon shrinks continuously causing quakes on surface


The space agency reached the conclusion after surveying more than 12,000 images which revealed that lunar basin Mare Frigoris near the Moon's north pole - which was assumed to be dead from a geological point of view - has been shifting and cracking. Unlike Earth, the Moon doesn't have its own tectonic plates; instead, its tectonic activity occurs as it loses heat. This causes its surface to wrinkle.

Since the Moon's crust is brittle, these forces break the surface as the interiors start shrinking. This results in thrust faults, where one section of the crust is pushed up over an adjacent section.

Over the past several million years, the Moon has shrunk by 150 feet or 50 meters. The Apollo astronauts first began measuring seismic activity on the Moon in the 1960s and 1970s, concluding that a vast majority occurred deep while very less on the surface.

"It's quite likely that the faults are still active today," said Nicholas Schmerr, an assistant professor of geology at the University of Maryland who co-authored the study. "You don't often get to see active tectonics anywhere but Earth, so it's very exciting to think these faults may still be producing moonquakes."

Besides, NASA is also working Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway which will be a base in the Moon's orbit for studying deep-space environment. It will also serve as a station for astronauts going on a mission to Mars.

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