What is a Solar system
Shrinking Moon
Shrinking Moon
The moon is shrinking, but don't worry, we'll still be able to see it. Scientists made the announcement Thursday.They say the shrinkage probably happened over a billion years as the moon's core cooled and contracted.As a result, part of it's crust has ruptured and that has pushed parts of the moon up through craters, creating landforms.

These small faults, which are caused by internal cooling of the moon, have been discovered all over the moon, said Thomas Watters, a planetary geologist at the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

"We know it's shrinking by looking at these landforms called lobate scarps that kind of look like stairsteps in the landscape," Watters told AOL News. "They're caused by thrust faults, which are generated when the lunar crust material is pushed together and pushed up, forming a cliff or scarp."

What excites scientists is that the LRO camera's high-resolution images reveal details down to a half meter to 2 meters per pixel resolution, and this is how Watters and his colleagues have been able to detect the scarps all over the moon.

But the biggest discovery about these structures, Watters added, points to the fact that the moon is still active.

"These faults could be so young that they may be indicating very, very recent tectonic and, therefore, geologic activity on the moon. One of the general conceptions out there is that the moon is this geologically dead body, and that's really not the case," he said.

Exactly how much lunar shrinkage are we talking about? And since the moon is directly involved with the rising and falling of global sea levels, should we be getting into panic mode down here on Earth at the idea of a smaller moon?

"Overall, it's only about 100 meters in the past billion years, so it's not a whole lot of contraction -- it's not something you're ever going to notice from Earth," Watters said. "But because the scarps are widespread, they definitely indicate the moon's crust has been shrinking.

"The mass of the moon hasn't changed; the overall size of the moon has changed slightly and become slightly smaller. Therefore, the tidal effects on Earth are exactly the same."

These lunar scarp structures were initially discovered in images photographed by several Apollo missions during the 1970s. But the LRO cameras now reveal how widespread the scarps are on the moon.

In the cosmic scheme of things, Watters wants to reassure us that there's no cause for alarm to Earthlings.

"No, absolutely not. The moon is not shrinking away. There's no fear that if you don't get out there and see the moon today, in the next cycle, it won't be there."



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What is a Solar system
India, New Delhi From Space


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