Additionally, "Establishing a new network of seismometers on the lunar surface should be a priority for human exploration of the Moon, both to learn more about the Moon's interior and to determine how much of a hazard moonquakes present", said co-author Renee Weber, a planetary seismologist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
By comparing lunar orbital imagery from NASA with seismic readings obtained almost half a century ago from equipment left on the moon by the Apollo missions, researchers believe they've figured out what's behind a pattern of mysterious moonquakes that have frustrated scientists for decades, seemingly originating from the upper few miles of the moon's crust: our neighboring satellite, believed to be a cold lifeless rock, is actually geologically alive, just like Earth.
"We think it's very likely that these eight quakes were produced by faults slipping as stress built up when the lunar crust was compressed by global contraction and tidal forces, indicating that the Apollo seismometers recorded the shrinking moon and the moon is still tectonically active", said Thomas Watters, lead author of the paper and a senior scientist at the Smithsonian Institution.
In 2012, Watters figured out that the scarps and related features formed quite recently, perhaps as recently as 50 million years ago.
The Apollo astronauts first began measuring seismic activity on the Moon in the 1960s and 1970s, finding the vast majority were occurred deep in the body's interior while a smaller number were on its surface.More news: Move over foldable phones, Lenovo unveils the ‘world’s first foldable PC’
As the moon cools and gets smaller, its crust becomes brittle and breaks up: a bit like what happens to a grape as it dries out to become a raisin.
This is because the core is cooling, which causes the surface to crack, creating step-like cliffs called "scarps".
NASA's Apollo 11 mission succeeded in landing the first humans on the moon on July 20, 1969.
Those "moonquakes" ranged from a magnitude to 2 to 5, according to NASA.
This means that the Apollo seismometers recorded the moon shrinking, the researchers said. Since rocky worlds expand when they heat up and contract as they cool, Mercury's large faults reveal that is was likely hot enough to be completely molten after its formation.More news: Shane Watson's blood-stained pants during IPL Final draws admiration of fans
A view of the Taurus-Littrow valley taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. At least eight of the quakes occurred due to activity along the faults.
From the data analysed and algorithms used, researchers were able to determine eight of the 28 shallow quakes recorded were within 30 kilometres of faults and were visible in lunar images. Those that appear brighter indicate freshly exposed lunar rock, suggesting an event like a "moonquake", which is an natural disaster that takes place on the moon.
"This additional investment, I want to be clear, is a downpayment on Nasa's efforts to land humans on the Moon by 2024", he said.
The announcement comes about six weeks after US Vice President Mike Pence called for an accelerated program to return humans to the lunar surface for the first time since the last Apollo lunar landing in 1972. Rocky planets and moons regularly experience similar movements, and faults can form between massive chunks of crust on other worlds the same as they can here on Earth. "This provides some very promising low-hanging fruit for science on a future mission to the Moon".
In the call, Bridenstine and others emphasized that, other than the cut in proposed Gateway funding, no other NASA programs were reduced to support this funding increase.More news: Jonas Brothers return to Saturday Night Live after more than 10 years