The moon is shrinking, causing earthquakes near the planned Artemis landing sites.

Check out this fault line on the moon. The moon is shrinking, causing earthquakes and faults like this near the moon's south pole, where NASA plans to land the next humans on the moon! via image NASA/ LRO/ LROC/ ASU/ Smithsonian Institution.

This is published by NASA Original story Edited by Earthsky on January 25, 2024.

The moon shrinks and causes earthquakes

In the next few years, NASA plans to send astronauts to the South Pole of the Moon with its Artemis campaign. On January 25, 2024, NASA released data from a study that will help scientists better understand this strategic part of the Moon. The study suggests that earthquakes and faults caused by the gradual cooling and contraction of the moon's interior include areas near some of the identified areas. Candidate Landing Areas For the first crew landing of Artemis 3.

Tom Waters Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., was lead author of the paper on the research Published On January 25 Peer reviewed Journal of Planetary Science. He said:

Our modeling suggests that slip events from existing faults or the formation of new thrust faults are possible, with shallow earthquakes capable of generating strong ground shaking in the South Pole region. Global distribution of young thrust faults, their ability to remain active and potential for new generation Impulse mistakes When planning the location and stability of permanent outposts on the Moon, consideration should be given to the current global compactness.

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Monitoring the Moon's Earthquakes

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera On NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) exists detected Thousands of small, young thrust faults are widely distributed in the lunar crust. Scarps are rock-like landforms that resemble small steps on the lunar surface. They form where compressional forces break the crust and push or push up on one side of the fault and down on the other. Due to compressions and global compression wave forces from Earth and the cooling of the still hot interior of the Moon.

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Formation of faults involves seismic activity in the form of shallow deep earthquakes. The Apollo Passive Seismic Network continuously recorded shallow earthquakes Seismometers That Apollo Astronauts stopped. The strongest recorded shallow earthquake was centered in the South Pole region. A young thrust-fault scarp lies within Gerlache Rim 2, the Artemis 3 candidate landing area. The study modeled it to show that the formation of this fault scarp could be related to earthquakes of record magnitude.

Crater with purple spots and some light blue areas.
One of Apollo's strongest earthquakes Passive seismic testing was present in this area, but the exact epicenter is uncertain. Purple dots represent possible epicenters. The blue boxes are potential locations for the Artemis 3 landing pad. via image NASA/ LROC/ ASU/ Smithsonian Institution.

Lunar South Pole: Home of ice and earthquakes

The team also modeled the stability of surface slopes in the lunar south pole region and found that some areas are vulnerable. Regolith Even mild earthquakes cause landslides. This includes some areas that are permanently shaded and may have snow.

Renee WeberA co-author of the paper at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama said:

To better understand the seismic risk for future human activities on the Moon, new seismic data are needed not only at the South Pole, but globally. Tasks like coming up Foresight Seismic Suite It will expand on the measurements made during Apollo and increase our knowledge of global seismicity.

A pitted area with blue spots and small red and green spots, and inset with many other spots.
This map shows surface slope instability near the Moon's south pole, particularly around Shackleton Crater. Red indicates less stable areas, blue more stable. via image NASA/ LROC/ ASU/ Smithsonian Institution.

Bottom line: The moon shrinks, causing earthquakes and faults near its south pole. This area is important for future Artemis missions because it contains icy deposits.

Source: Tectonics and Seismology of the Lunar South Pole


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