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We tend to think of the moon as the archetypal "dead" world. Not only is there no life, almost all its volcanic activity died out billions of years ago. Even the youngest lunar lava is old enough to have become scarred by numerous impact craters that have been collected over the aeons as cosmic debris crashed into the ground.
Hints that the moon is not quite geologically dead though have been around since the Apollo era, 50 years ago. Apollo missions 12, 14, 15 and 16 left working "moonquake detectors" (seismometers) on the lunar surface. These transmitted recorded data to Earth until 1977, showing vibrations caused by internal "moonquakes". But no one was sure whether any of these were associated with actual moving faults breaking the surface of the moon or purely internal movements that could also cause tremors. Now a new study, published in Nature Geoscience, suggests the moon may indeed have active faults today.
Clue - Something - Moon - Apollo - Astronauts
Another clue that something is still going on at the moon came in 1972 when Apollo 17 astronauts Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt inspected a step in the terrain, a few tens of metres high, that they called "the Lee-Lincoln scarp". They, and their team of advisers back on Earth thought it might be a geological fault (where one tract of crustal rock has moved relative to another), but they weren't sure.
A handful of similar examples were noted in photographs taken from Apollo craft as they orbited near the moon's equator, but it was not until 2010 that the Lunar Reconniassance Orbiter Camera, capable of recording details less than a metre across, revealed that such scarps can be found scattered across the whole globe.
Faults - Moon - Birth
It is now widely agreed that these are thrust faults, caused as the moon cools down from its hot birth. As it does,...
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