MoontideNew research by NASA has revealed a tremendous amount of information about our moon. Since 2009, the LROC mission provided high detail mapping of the moon far beyond the Apollo missions from 1969 to the 70s. Now, six years into this mission thousands of faults have been documented on the surface of the moon. They are young, and they change in a similar fashion as the moon influences our ocean tides (and many some people’s personalities).

Moon Is Shrinking

watters_et_al_press_photo_1_smOne thing that stood out in the NASA report was that the moon is shrinking. It might seem like a cold, lifeless body, but the interior is still hot like that of Earth. But it is cooling, and as it does show, the heavenly body is shrinking causing cracks or faults in the surface. These have been measured mostly less than 6.2 miles (10Km) long and a few ten of yards or meters high. See more about the moon’s evolution in the video at the bottom of this post.

About 70 cliffs were seen through the Apollo Missions, and after the first year LROC addd 14 to the list. In the years that have followed, 3,000 new formations have been discovered by the LRO team based at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in our backyard of Greenbelt, MD.

These fault scarps have a pattern that aligns with each other. This indicates that the pull of Earth’s tidal force is influencing the hard surface in a slower but similar way the moon affects our oceans.

Image: NASA/LRO/Arizona State University/Smithsonian Institution

The faults appear to still be forming today. They are under the most stress at apogee, when the moon is farthest from Earth.

Note: Special Lunar Eclipse next week:  Ironically this month is once of three super moons in a row, where the moon is closest in orbit to Earth (perigee) at the time of full moon. We will be greeted to a lunar eclipse on September 27 to 28th:

  • Begins at 8:11 PM (Sep 27)
  • Full at 10:11 PM
  • Full ends at 11:23PM
  • Entire eclipse ends at 1:22 AM (Sep 28)

“The discovery of so many previously undetected tectonic features as our LROC high-resolution image coverage continues to grow is truly remarkable,” said Mark Robinson of Arizona State University, coauthor and LROC principal investigator. “Early on in the mission we suspected that tidal forces played a role in the formation of tectonic features, but we did not have enough coverage to make any conclusive statements. Now that we have NAC images with appropriate lighting for more than half of the moon, structural patterns are starting to come into focus.”


Moon’s Evolution from LRO


About the LRO Mission: Back To The Moon


Also see:

Far Side Of The Moon: NASA Video From 1 Million Miles Away

Full Moon August 29 1st of 3 Supermoons

Shooting The Moon: Truth About Blue and Camera Settings For Full

When The Blue Moon Was Actually Orange And Red: Top Dozen Photos

Best views of ISS and Full Moon: Blue Moon Tonight


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