NASA LRO high resolution imaging showed thousands on fault scraps on lunar crust
It has been long known that Moon’s gravitational pull affects the water of the seas and lakes and cause them to rise and fall.
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But, recent images taken from the NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) show that tidal waves created by Earth are also having an impact on Moon, in fact, they are reshaping lunar crust and opening up faults in it.
“The discovery of thousands of young fault scarps, influenced by tidal forces from Earth, is an exciting new dimension to our understanding of the close relationship between our planet and the Moon,” said Tom Watters, the lead author and Smithsonian senior scientist in the National Air and Space Museum’s Center for Earth and Planetary Studies.
LRO’s high resolution imaging captured more than 3,000 lobe-shaped cracks on Moon so far. These cracks are estimated 10 kilometers long and 10 of meters in height are dispersed all over the lunar crust.
The cracks are supposed to be form when Earth’s gravity causes the lunar crust to rise and fall similar to what Moon’s gravity does to the water of the Earth. The gravitational pull generates stresses, pushes crust materials together, breaks and thrusts them upward.
“There is a pattern in the orientations of the thousands of faults, and it suggests something else is influencing their formation, something that’s also acting on a global scale,” explained Watters. That something is the Earth’s gravitational pull.”
LRO is orbiting Moon since 2009. Initially, it covered just 10 percent of the lunar surface. But now after the six of years of orbiting, it has been able to identify more lunar surface with fault scarps and more scraps are expected to be discover as coverage increases.
“The discovery of so many undetected tectonic features as our LROC high resolution image coverage continues to grow is truly remarkable,” said Mark Robinson, co-author and principal investigator of LROC. “Early on the mission we suspected that tidal forces played a role in the formation of tectonic features, but we just did not have enough coverage to make any conclusive statements.”
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The data collected over the past five years enabled scientists to create model and come forward with an explanation.