SHOCKING Moon Discovery: The Hidden Secrets of Lunar Quakes Revealed!

Several days after the Chandrayaan-3’s Vikram lander detected a “natural” seismic event on the Moon, scientists have disclosed that the Moon is not a serene celestial body. Instead, it experiences regular “thermal moonquakes” owing to extreme temperature variations on its surface.

This research, headed by Francesco Civilini, a recent postdoc at Caltech, has been officially published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

Unlike Earth, the Moon lacks an atmosphere to regulate its temperature, causing it to undergo drastic temperature swings. During the day, the lunar surface can reach scorching highs of up to 120 degrees Celsius, while at night, it plummets to bone-chilling lows of -130 degrees Celsius. These extreme temperature variations lead to the expansion and contraction of the lunar surface, resulting in minor shaking and cracking, referred to as thermal moonquakes.

The study relied on data collected by seismometers placed on the Moon during the Apollo 17 mission in the 1970s. This data, largely untouched until now, underwent a reanalysis using modern techniques such as machine learning. The study unveiled a noteworthy pattern: thermal moonquakes occur with remarkable regularity every afternoon, as the Sun departs from its peak position in the sky, causing the lunar surface to cool down.

Interestingly, the study also identified additional seismic activity in the morning, distinct from the evening moonquakes. Upon further examination, these morning vibrations were determined not to be thermal moonquakes but rather vibrations emanating from the Apollo 17 lunar lander base. As the lander structure heated and expanded in the morning sunlight, its creaking vibrations were detected by the seismic array.

Allen Husker, a research professor of geophysics and co-author of the new study, elaborated, “Every lunar morning when the sun hits the lander, it starts emitting these vibrations. Approximately every five to six minutes, another vibration occurs, spanning a period of five to seven Earth hours. They were remarkably consistent and recurring.”

This discovery holds significant importance, particularly as NASA plans to return astronauts to the Moon in the coming years through the Artemis missions, with the ultimate goal of establishing a lunar base. Understanding the ability of future lunar landers and equipment to endure thermal contraction and expansion is of paramount significance.

Moreover, seismic waves offer valuable insights into what lies beneath the lunar surface. Husker stated, “We hope to be able to map the subsurface cratering and search for deposits.” He further added that seismometers could potentially detect water ice trapped in the subsurface of the Moon’s permanently shadowed regions, particularly at the Moon’s South Pole.

Despite the absence of plate tectonics or volcanic activity on the Moon, numerous questions regarding its internal structure remain unanswered. This study marks a substantial stride toward a better understanding of our celestial neighbor.

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