Warehouse K
Lunar Mysteries
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New Discovery – The Moon Is Shrinking

By James Donahue

After all of the data collected from the Moon, from advanced telescopes, the many orbital missions and human moon landings, there appears to be much more to learn about that peculiar orb in our night sky.

New images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter reveal strange geological faults all over the surface of the Moon that scientists say were apparently caused by a cooling and shrinking process that has been going on for a few million years.

The fault lines look like pinched formations, or wrinkles on the Moon’s surface. From space they say some areas of the Moon look somewhat like a raisin, filled with the strange formations.

The wrinkles, or scarps, did not go unnoticed by the astronauts that visited the Moon 40 years ago. They photographed some of them near the Moon’s equator. It hasn’t been until recently that the new images showed that the same wrinkling can be found all over the Moon’s surface.

NASA scientists, who have recently begun publishing their reports in various professional journals, note that the scarps appear to be a relatively new phenomenon since some of the wrinkles run right through several impact craters. None were found to have impact craters affecting the scarp formations.

Another peculiarity about the wrinkles is that they are crisp semicircular formations taking a north-to-south orientation.

Now the question is whether these formations, or long rolling hill-type formations, are growing in size. NASA is attempting to compare the new images from space with photographs taken of some of them during the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 missions, to determine if there has been any difference in their size.

One report said the existence of the scarps are a sign of “thrust faulting,” something that happens when the Moon’s crust is abruptly compressed. That they exist all over the Moon suggests that the Moon is contracting. And, indeed, when measured, NASA now estimates that the Moon’s radius has shrunk more than 300 feet since the bombardment that created the impact craters that pepper the surface.

We haven’t found an explanation for how the Moon geologists reached this conclusion. We will just have to take their word for it.

That the Moon seems to be shrinking like a giant prune in the sky, the seismometers placed on its surface by astronauts in the 1970s have recorded various “moonquakes” since that time, give us a picture of a body that remains both geologically and  tectonically active.

All this, of course, helps support our premise that our universe is very much alive and in the process of constant change. We are fortunate enough to be living in an age when such information is made readily available for us to see and marvel at.

It also makes us realize just how small and insignificant we are in the total scheme of things.