Do not aim for it: a reduction in moon size results in earthquakes and landslides lasting for several hours.
According to recent research funded by NASA, the consistent presence of the moon in the night sky actually hides a more unpredictable nature.
As the core of the Earth’s only natural satellite cools, the moon is shrinking, causing it to shrivel. That creates ripples tens of meters high, called thrust faults, across the moon’s surface.
These thrust faults can also cause hours-long moonquakes and landslides, posing a potential danger to people and robots as we continue to explore the moon.
According to Tom Watters, lead author of a recent study published in the Planetary Science Journal, our analysis indicates that shallow moonquakes in the southern polar region could occur due to either slip events on current faults or the creation of new thrust faults, resulting in significant ground shaking.
Scientists have placed their attention on the south pole of the moon, as it is considered to be significant due to the possibility of there being areas where water ice is permanently stored in shadowed regions. The lunar south pole has been designated as the main objective for Nasa’s planned Artemis III mission, which is set to take place in September of 2026.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter camera recorded the ever-changing surface of the moon, detecting numerous young and relatively small thrust faults scattered throughout the lunar crust. These faults were also identified by seismic devices previously placed on the moon’s surface by astronauts several decades ago. This new study successfully correlated the faults with seismic data.
According to a statement released by NASA, Watters emphasized the importance of taking into account the worldwide presence of young thrust faults, their potential for activity, and the possibility of new thrust faults forming due to ongoing global contraction when determining the placement and security of permanent outposts on the Moon.
Later, Watters informed CNN that he does not wish to cause alarm or discourage exploration, but rather to caution future explorers.
He stated that the moon is not a peaceful location with no activity taking place.