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Archive for Friday, August 20, 2010

Moon may be shrinking, but slowly

August 20, 2010

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— The moon may be shrinking.

Not to worry though, lovers and crooners, it won’t be disappearing any time soon.

New research indicates cracks in the moon’s crust that have formed as the interior has cooled and shrunk over the last billion years or so. That means the surface has shrunk, too, though not so you’d notice just from gazing at it.

Scientists have identified 14 landforms called lobate scarps scattered over the surface of the moon, explained Thomas R. Watters of the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

Watters and colleagues describe their find in today’s edition of the journal Science.

The scarps had previously been noted at the moon’s equator, but this is the first evidence in other areas, indicating they result from a global process.

The study calls the scarps “evidence of recent thrust faulting on the moon.” But this is planetary science, where “recent” can mean a billion years ago.

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