NASA Spacecraft Reveals 'Recent' Geological Activity On The Moon | Aero-News Network
Aero-News Network
RSS icon RSS feed
podcast icon MP3 podcast
Subscribe Aero-News e-mail Newsletter Subscribe

Airborne Unlimited -- Recent Daily Episodes

Episode Date

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Airborne On ANN

Airborne 04.27.15

Airborne 04.21.15

Airborne 04.22.15

Airborne 04.23.15

Airborne 04.24.15

Airborne Hi-Def On YouTube

Airborne 04.27.15

Airborne 04.21.15

Airborne 04.22.15

Airborne 04.23.15

Airborne 04.24.15

Thu, Feb 23, 2012

NASA Spacecraft Reveals 'Recent' Geological Activity On The Moon

Scientists Say Moon Is Pulling Apart Forming Small Valleys On The Lunar Surface

New images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft show the moon's crust is being stretched, forming minute valleys in a few small areas on the lunar surface. Scientists propose this geologic activity occurred less than 50 million years ago, which is considered recent compared to the moon's age of more than 4.5 billion years.

A team of researchers analyzing high-resolution images obtained by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) show small, narrow trenches typically much longer than they are wide. This indicates the lunar crust is being pulled apart at these locations. These linear valleys, known as graben, form when the moon's crust stretches, breaks and drops down along two bounding faults. A handful of these graben systems have been found across the lunar surface.

"We think the moon is in a general state of global contraction because of cooling of a still hot interior," said Thomas Watters of the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, and lead author of a paper on this research appearing in the March issue of the journal Nature Geoscience. "The graben tell us forces acting to shrink the moon were overcome in places by forces acting to pull it apart. This means the contractional forces shrinking the moon cannot be large, or the small graben might never form."

The weak contraction suggests that the moon, unlike the terrestrial planets, did not completely melt in the very early stages of its evolution. Rather, observations support an alternative view that only the moon's exterior initially melted forming an ocean of molten rock.

In August 2010, the team used LROC images to identify physical signs of contraction on the lunar surface, in the form of lobe-shaped cliffs known as lobate scarps. The scarps are evidence the moon shrank globally in the geologically recent past and might still be shrinking today. The team saw these scarps widely distributed across the moon and concluded it was shrinking as the interior slowly cooled.

Based on the size of the scarps, it is estimated that the distance between the moon's center and its surface shrank by approximately 300 feet. The graben were an unexpected discovery and the images provide contradictory evidence that the regions of the lunar crust are also being pulled apart.

"This pulling apart tells us the moon is still active," said Richard Vondrak, LRO Project Scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD. "LRO gives us a detailed look at that process."

As the LRO mission progresses and coverage increases, scientists will have a better picture of how common these young graben are and what other types of tectonic features are nearby. The graben systems the team finds may help scientists refine the state of stress in the lunar crust.

"It was a big surprise when I spotted graben in the far side highlands," said co-author Mark Robinson of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University, principal investigator of LROC. "I immediately targeted the area for high-resolution stereo images so we could create a three-dimensional view of the graben. It's exciting when you discover something totally unexpected and only about half the lunar surface has been imaged in high resolution. There is much more of the moon to be explored."

FMI: www.nasa.gov

Advertisement

More News

U.S. Drawing Down European Apache Fleet

Will Relocate 24 Aircraft From Germany To Alaska Twenty-Four Apache attack helicopters will be relocated from Germany to Alaska under a cost-saving plan being implemented by the U.>[...]

GoJet Airlines Announces ATP Flight School Partial Reimbursement Program

Program Subsidizes A portion Of ATP Tuition For Students Who Commit To Flying For GoJet Airlines GoJet Airlines is pleased to announce that it has teamed with ATP Flight School to >[...]

ANN FAQ: Getting The Most Out Of ANN's Newsletters

ANN goes through a lot of trouble to make the graphics flashy and cool and an integral part of the story. But let's face it, they're bandwidth-intensive. So here are a couple of th>[...]

Airborne 04.24.15: DA62 Cert, Flt Design's C4, Sporty Transitions, 1st Flt Fight

Also: Legend Cub, Piper Orders, Postal UAVs?, IMC Club 'Brown Jacket Award', X-47B Refueling The Diamond DA62 has received its EASA Type certificate. After a sunny and warm day Wed>[...]

ANN's Daily Aero-Linx (04.26.15)

Aerospace Web Aerospaceweb.org is a non-profit site operated by engineers and scientists in the aerospace field. The goal of this site is to provide educational information on a va>[...]

blog comments powered by Disqus



Advertisement

Advertisement

Podcasts

Advertisement

© 2007 - 2015 Web Development & Design by Pauli Systems, LC