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Man-made Moonquake: Abandoned Apollo 17 lunar lander module is causing tremors on the moon

A new study has identified a previously unknown form of seismic activity on the moon, attributed to the effects of human-made structures left behind by US astronauts. Using modern algorithms to analyze Apollo-era data, researchers discovered that temperature fluctuations on the lunar surface cause these vibrations, leading to small tremors known as “moonquakes.”

The extreme temperature swings on the moon, ranging from minus 208 degrees Fahrenheit in darkness to 250 degrees Fahrenheit in direct sunlight, can cause structures to expand and contract, generating these seismic events.

The study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, employed artificial intelligence to analyze Apollo-era data in such detail that researchers could pinpoint tremors emanating from an Apollo 17 lunar lander module, which was a short distance away from instruments recording the moonquakes.

While these moonquakes were not hazardous and likely invisible to humans on the lunar surface, they provided insights into the moon’s response to its surroundings and factors affecting its seismic activity.

Understanding moonquakes is crucial for future lunar exploration efforts, mainly as NASA and its partners aim to establish a permanent outpost on the moon as part of the Artemis program. Knowledge of lunar seismic activity can inform the design and construction of structures on the moon, ensuring their resilience in this extreme environment.

The study also highlighted the importance of seismometers in lunar missions, emphasizing the need for continued inclusion of these instruments in future lunar expeditions.

While the moon lacks tectonic plates like Earth, it exhibits various forms of seismic activity, including thermal moonquakes, shallow tremors, and events caused by meteorite impacts.

Researchers hope that further analysis of moonquake data and future lunar missions will provide a more comprehensive understanding of these phenomena.

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