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Moon's Surface is Changing, Forming Faster the Previously Thought

Oct 14, 2016 04:43 AM EDT
A Plane Is Dwarfed As It Flies Past The Moon
The surface of the moon is younger than previously thought, based on the findings of a recent study that discovered impact craters that were created in the last seven years.
(Photo : Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The crater-rich surface of the moon is caused by the impact of space rocks. But a recent study suggests that some of these crater impacts are only a few years old. This means the lunar surface changes continuously and more recently than previously thought.

Reports say that at least 222 impact craters were created in the last seven years. The number exceeds by 33 percent compared to the expected number. It also adds to the possibility of future lunar missions to dock away from incoming space rocks.

"It's just something that's happening all the time," Emerson Speyerer, an engineer at Arizona State University said in a statement. The study was published in the journal Nature.

The lack of atmosphere also makes the surface of the moon more dangerous as compared to Mars. This recent study also defies the long belief with regard to the age of the moon's surface. How scientists compute the age of the lunar surface is highly dependent on the craters created by impacts of space rocks and how it changes the terrain on the surface of the moon.

Most craters on the moon were created millions of years ago, but the surprising turn is the discovery of very recent ones. In 2011, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory analyzed the images taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and compared it to older images from the Apollo mission. The result also proved that there are new impact craters being formed with the discovery of five new craters that are only evident in the LRO images.

To add to that, another inquiry conducted in 2013 spotted flashes of light on the surface of the moon. NASA's LRO surveyed the area and later on discovered freshly formed craters suggesting another set of crater impacts were created.

The LRO mission has proven to be significant in the continuous study of the lunar surface, however, there are very few images taken of the same area under the same lighting conditions. With millions of images, it is very hard to compare and analyze paired images. But the recent study used a program to compare and analyze paired images. With this method, the researchers were able to identify the changes between the compared images.

All in all, the recently formed 222 craters on the lunar surface ranges from two to 43 meters in diameter. The images of the moon's craters and its lunar surface were also photograph by Japan's Space Agency (JAXA), the images taken by Japan's SELENA mission are said to be first high-resolution images of the lunar surface and Earth-rises.


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