Moon is shrinking, lunar images reveal

Sunday, August 22, 2010, 19:47 by Tech Correspondent

Will Earth lose its moon soon? Though fears on that are a bit far fetched, chances are that the moon could be shrinking.

New images sent back to earth from a spacecraft orbiting the moon point to such a phenomenon. According to reports quoting NASA scientists, the images show that the curving lines of small cliffs on the moon’s surface reveal that the moon’s interiors have cooled down forcing the surface to shrink. This process is believed to have happened over a period of a billion years.

Though it is not possible to gauge the exact amount of shrinkage of the moon from the earth, scientists say the moon is still on shrinking mode. Attributing the process to formation of cliffs – also called lobate scarps – due to moon quakes, scientists say they have reasons to believe that the shrinking process has been ongoing. It has been pointed out that the moon’s radius has shrunk by at least 300 feet over the past billion years. It had earlier been reported that seismographs carried out by astronauts on the last three Apollo missions nearly 40 years ago had revealed moon quakes. T may be recalled that Apollo 17 Astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt had explored a section called the Lee-Lincoln scarp at their site near the lunar equator and found a thrust fault quake had created the scarp and caused rocks to tumble down .  The latest images bring to the fore details on as many as 14 more lobate scarps scattered across the entire lunar surface.

It has also been revealed that the extremely hot interiors of the moon had since a long time tended to cool down. This is besides the fact that the Lunar surface had been bombarded endlessly by asteroids and comets packed with radioactive elements. The cooling down has been happening though the asteroid bombardment normally causes the heat to rise.

NASA scientists are now looking at the strange history of the moon and trying to gauge the exact  levels of  shrinkage that has been happening since the past so many billion years. However, there is hope that the moon may not disappear completely.  ?

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