Moonquakes are causing the moon to shrink over time

Shrinking Moon may be experiencing powerful quakes to this day

While other seismic disturbances measured by the Apollo-era seismometers could be attributed to Earth's own gravity making itself felt through space - in the same way that the moon's gravitational pull causes the oceans to rise and fall, so the Earth's pull actually deforms the moon's surface, stretching it into a slightly oblong shape before releasing it back into a sphere - asteroid impacts, or temperature shifts, these "shallow" moonquakes had previously frustrated all attempts to study them.

Images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter showed that the moon has delicately shriveled as its interior has cooled over the eons, akin to a plump grape transforming into a smaller raisin. The shrinking has caused ridges on the moon's surface called "thrust faults" - where one section of crust is pushed up over a neighboring part.

Shallow moonquakes recorded at four different landing sites during the Apollo programme suggest that the Moon is now tectonically active, say scientists who have been trying to pin point the epicentre of the quakes with the help of data from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).

Astronauts and Jeff Bezos-types hoping to set up shop on the Moon might have another challenge to worry about: moonquakes caused by tectonic activity.

Watters said some of the quakes "can be fairly strong" - as high as a 5 on the Richter scale.

Seismic activities on the moon were recorded by seismometers that were placed on the lunar surface during the Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15 and 16 missions.

Now though, researchers in the USA and Canada, have used a problem-solving computer program called a relocation algorithm to help determine whereabouts the waves may have struck from. Some of these images show landslides or boulders at the bottom of relatively bright patches on the slopes of fault scarps or nearby terrain.

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As a result, researchers were able to "tentatively attribute" the recorded quakes to the faults. Six of moonquakes occurred while the moon was at or near its apogee, which is the point where the moon is farthest away from Earth.

"This additional investment, I want to be clear, is a down payment on NASA's efforts to land humans on the moon by 2024", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a call with reporters announced on a little more than an hour's notice that evening.

Simulations determined the chance that coincidence could explain so many shallow quakes occurring near faults during periods of high stress was less than 4 percent.

This work was supported by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Project and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Although the Apollo instruments recorded their last quake shortly before the instruments were retired in 1977, the researchers suggest that the moon is likely still experiencing quakes to this day. Normally, weathering darkens material on the moon's surface in time.

Bridenstine said that around $1 billion of the additional funding would enable NASA to begin the development of a commercial landing system, which will transport astronauts from lunar orbit to the surface and back.

Additionally, one of the revised moonquake epicenters is just 13 kilometers (8 miles) from the Lee-Lincoln scarp traversed by the Apollo 17 astronauts. Taking all the models together and examining images showing evidence of recent moving debris on the Moon, the researchers hypothesized that the Moon must still be tectonically active. Our solar system's innermost planet Mercury, too, boasts numerous thrust faults.

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