Thursday, August 19, 2010

New Pictures From The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Show The Moon Might Be Shrinking

What if the moon shrunk this much?
Pictures taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter may indicate that the moon is shrinking. The findings will be published tomorrow, Augusts 20th, in a journal called Science by Smithsonian scientist Thomas Watters.

Previous images taken by some Apollo missions have shown that the moon contains thrust vaults (areas which the crust has compressed) around the moon's equator.

However, recent pictures by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter have proven that the thrust vaults are spread globally across the moon and not just by the equator. This information could mean that the moon is contracting in some way and shrinking.

"Relatively young, globally distributed thrust faults show recent contraction of the whole moon, likely due to cooling of the lunar interior. The amount of contraction is estimated to be about 100 meters in the recent past," Watters explains.

How it may be shrinking
The birth of the moon was forged with asteroids hammering asteroids. This constant beating and hammering caused the moon to get very hot. After the moon began to take its first baby steps; it began to cool down, causing itself to contract and shrink. If the moon is still shrinking today, this might mean that the moon still has some cooling off to do. But, as Watters said, "The amount of contraction is estimated to be about 100 meters in the recent past," -- it certainly isn't much to get fussy about. It's still some cool information though and Thanks goes to NASA!

Further Reading: NASA

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