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Moon NASA Space Science

The Moon Is Shrinking Like a Wrinkled Apple 116

Posted by Soulskill
from the that's-no-apple dept.
astroengine writes "New observations by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter have uncovered a number of previously unknown, recently formed 'lobate scarps' — raised cliffs about 9 meters high and several kilometers long — over the lunar surface. These scarps form along thrust faults where compression forces the moon's crust to rise. Up until now it was thought these lobate scarps only occurred around the lunar equator, but the high resolution LRO imagery suggests they are ubiquitous, regardless of latitude. As the moon is geologically inactive, what could be creating these features? It would appear the moon's surface is acting like the skin of an apple surrounding the shrinking, dehydrated flesh of the fruit; the lunar crust (skin) is wrinkling as the body of the moon (the flesh) shrinks due to cooling contraction inside the moon's core."
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The Moon Is Shrinking Like a Wrinkled Apple

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 20, 2010 @11:36AM (#33315330)

    This more like the aging of a round of cheese.

  • Amazing (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ardeaem (625311) on Friday August 20, 2010 @11:37AM (#33315336)
    It's amazing that can happen over the span of just 6,000 years.
    • And now, because of the Slashdot feature, experts are certain the moon will crumble and rain down hellfire on us in a few years.
      • Finally a plausible 2012 teaching. The moon would be split into pieces.

        All that happened just because in 2009 the Space Nazis [youtube.com] drilled for gold. They planned the financial crisis together with the skulls and bones [youtube.com]. The Space Nazis wanted to "get rich big" by selling moon gold.

      • Get your little pointy forks and bread ready. A fondu downpour will happen any day now.
  • I mean moon! I'm crushing your moon!
  • It's just (Score:5, Funny)

    by JustOK (667959) on Friday August 20, 2010 @11:37AM (#33315342) Journal

    it's just shrinkage cuz it's cold in space. Happens to every moon, doesn't it?

    • by whovian (107062)

      it's just shrinkage cuz it's cold in space. Happens to every moon, doesn't it?

      It is very cold....in spaccccccccce.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Nah, it's shrinking and wrinkling 'cause it's gettin' old. Like your mom.

      • by PachmanP (881352)

        Nah, it's shrinking and wrinkling 'cause it's gettin' old. Like your mom.

        Hey! I was with his mom the other day, and she is most definitely not wrinkling (at least where it counts). She also had quite a lot of pent up...uh...energy.

    • by unix1 (1667411)

      Happens to every moon, doesn't it?

      That's right. In fact, Steve Jobs has scheduled a press conference later today demonstrating that, contrary to NASA's claim, this has nothing to do with Apple specifically. He will show pictures of moons from other planets that experience the same "shrinkage" if you look at them in a certain way. Sources familiar with the situation say the moons in the demo will resemble other fruits including different berries. YouTube videos will follow the press conference.

  • Nuke it (Score:2, Funny)

    The only way to guarantee our safety is to nuke it to ashes before anything unexpected or bad happens. Plus everyone will receive free apple pie from the sky.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by dimuziom (1756364)
      That's like the inverse of "nuke the site from orbit, it's the only way to be sure." Well played.
    • The only way to guarantee our safety is to nuke it to ashes before anything unexpected or bad happens. Plus everyone will receive free apple pie from the sky.

      I think that was plan 5 plan 9 is even dumber

      • Here's the plan. We fire a large volume of rubber debris directly into the Moon's craters, plugging them up and preventing the Moon from pumping out any more deadly space anthrax.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by anaesthetica (596507)
      Make sure to nuke it when it's a full moon, otherwise we might not get the whole thing.
  • by al3k (1638719) on Friday August 20, 2010 @11:41AM (#33315402) Homepage
    It's lunar cooling!!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by bwayne314 (1854406)
      hes super-cereal guys!
    • Nope. It's still Global Warming. Remember that movie where New York was frozen solid by Global Warming, releasing the wolves. This is the same thing. Better be ready for the Lunar Wolves to attack.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by WoRLoKKeD (1142351)

        Correct me if I'm wrong, but the last time the Luna Wolves did a major attack, didn't we end up with a galaxy-crushing war on our hands?

  • Quick! Send all your Viagra emails there! The Moon needs Viagra! It's shrinking like it was stuck in cold water!

  • teehee (Score:3, Funny)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Friday August 20, 2010 @11:44AM (#33315448) Homepage

    Frylock: "What happened to your body, man?"
    Meatwad: "Well, it's obvious isn't it? Thermal expansion."
    Frylock: "No it's not thermal expansion. I know what thermal expansion is."
    Meatwad: "Okay, fine. I'm sure that you do. Let's see, how can I explain this without blowing your mind?"
    Frylock: "Oh yes, please. Dumb it down for me."
    Meatwad: "Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle tells us that at a specific curvature of space, knowledge can be transferred into energy."
    Frylock: "Heisenberg's Uncert-"
    Meatwad: "Or...and this is key now...matter."
    Frylock: "No it does not!"
    Meatwad: "Well, some people struggle with Heisenberg. Look! Here's a toy! It goes up and down on a string, doesn't that look like fun?"
    Frylock: "Get that thing out of my face!"
    Meatwad: "Why don't you go take that into the other room, while the adults are doing important research here."
    Frylock: "Oh, I'm sorry professor. I didn't realize that knowledge could also transform you into an arrogant ass."

  • by Inda (580031) <slash.20.inda@spamgourmet.com> on Friday August 20, 2010 @11:45AM (#33315458) Journal
    All this Apple bashing on Slashdot is doing my head in. Can't you just give it a rest for a single day?

    I'm so angry. Cancel my subscription. I'm done here.
    • Sack up, precious - you wouldn't want to get any tears on that pretty little Retina Display now, would you...
  • The moon is just like Larry King.



    KAH - BOOMZAZAZAZA! I'll be here all week, try the veal and please tip your waiter.
  • Tides? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by egburr (141740) on Friday August 20, 2010 @11:47AM (#33315490) Homepage

    My first thought was couldn't this be more of a tidal effect than due to shrinking? After all, look at what the orbiting mass of the moon does to our oceans. Wouldn't the mass of the earth have a similar effect on the moon? Even if it is tide-locked so the same face always faces the earth, surely there's some slight wobble to that that would cause stress.

    • Re:Tides? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Peach Rings (1782482) on Friday August 20, 2010 @11:56AM (#33315598) Homepage

      Hur dur, except that's exactly what was surprising about finding the scarping places other than the lunar equator.

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by TimHunter (174406)

      My first thought was couldn't this be more of a tidal effect than due to shrinking?

      What a brilliant idea! Why don't you call up "David Morrison, senior scientist at NASA's Lunar Science Institute and NASA's 'Ask an Astrobiologist' http://astrobiology.nasa.gov/ask-an-astrobiologist/ [nasa.gov] expert" and share your insight with him?

      Say something like "Hey Dave! I've RTF summary on Slashdot and now I think I know more about this than you do."

      Then post back and tell us what happened.

      • Well there's your problem. If he were an Astrogeologist then people might stop discounting his theories.

      • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

        by UnknownSoldier (67820)

        > David Morrison, senior scientist at NASA's Lunar Science Institute

        > "Ancient calendars are interesting to historians, but of they cannot match the ability we have today to keep track of time, or the precision of the calendars currently in use."

        The Mayan Calender (365.2420 days) is more accurate then the Gregorian Calendar (365.2425 days) compared to the solar tropical year of 365.2422 days.

        Apparently he has never read "Calendar: Humanity's Epic Struggle to Determine a True and Accurate Year"

        > "Th

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Froze (398171)

      I think the idea is that tidal distortions would be almost exclusively limited to the equatorial regions, this appears to be radially isomorphic, indicating that it is not the result of tidal stress.

    • But tides are caused by the moon and I say screw newtons 3rd law.

      I think gravitational forces may not cause that problem as it will pull the moon but then pull it back when it rotates 180 degrees (as for the earths observation) I don't think those forces would create that type of an effect. Or you may be able to see more exaggerated features on Jupiter's moons.

      • I think gravitational forces may not cause that problem as it will pull the moon but then pull it back when it rotates 180 degrees (as for the earths observation) I don't think those forces would create that type of an effect.

        Someone did explain to you that the moon doesn't rotate relative to Earth, right? Same face is looking at us all the time...

        If no-one has explained that yet, consider this to be a brief introduction: the moon is "tide-locked" to Earth, and its rotation period is the same as its orbi

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ewskau (1883212)
      The article does not mention this at all, but if the moon is shrinking then its rotational period must be getting shorter (angular momentum). There does not seem to be an indication that the period of the moon is decreasing, suggesting its either too small of an effect, not there, or not being looked for.
      • Re:Tides? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by mea37 (1201159) on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:18PM (#33317508)

        Interesting point. However, I think tidal locking [wikipedia.org] makes it a little more complicated than that.

        I'm not sure what happens when a tidally locked satelite's diameter gradually changes, but given that tidal locking is an equalibrium state it seems reasonable to suspect that the tidal lock is preserved.

        If so, then as the moon's rotation would naturally tend to speed up, the Earth would pull back on it. This would reduce the increase in rotation, but to preserve angular momentum it would also have to increase the orbital period - meaning the moon would move to a lower orbit with both its period of orbit and its period of rotation slightly reduced.

        • Re:Tides? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by osu-neko (2604) on Friday August 20, 2010 @03:32PM (#33318406)

          This would reduce the increase in rotation, but to preserve angular momentum it would also have to increase the orbital period - meaning the moon would move to a lower orbit with both its period of orbit and its period of rotation slightly reduced.

          You were right before the dash: it will increase the orbital period, not reduce it as you said (contradicting yourself) after the dash. This will push the moon into a higher orbit, not a lower one. And indeed, the moon is moving 38mm further away every year, although this is primarily due to the same effect slowing the Earth's rotation rather than the Moon's.

          • by mea37 (1201159)

            You're right that I got turned around, but you're wrong about where I was wrong. I was wrong before the dash.

            The tides reduce the amount by which the rotational period changes. Without the tides, the rotational period would decrease, so the tides are effectively increasing the rotational period. For the tides to increase the rotational period, they must decrease the orbital period, which indicates a lower (not higher) orbit.

            Thenet effect is for both periods to decrease. If you think about what tidal loc

    • by icebike (68054)

      Shrinking wasn't the first thing that came to my mind either. There should be some horrendously large ridges pushed up, some obvious fault escarpments and such.

      I was thinking expansion, like the mid-atlantic rift, but I'd go for gravitational deformation as an equally probable cause.

      I'm sure the scientists making the claim have some reason to suspect shrinkage, but solid body shrinkage is not they postulate on any other moons, so why raise that suggestion here?

    • by shnull (1359843)
      my first thought was, what would happen if the moon disappeared completely? i suppose that would have a severe impact on us, no? As long as it's shrinking i suppose it doesn't really lose mass. So the gravitational effect should stay the same, but, does size matter on this cosmic scale? Anyone any idea?
  • Nah... (Score:2, Funny)

    by davev2.0 (1873518)
    It is just a side effect of my lunar mining operations.
  • by microbee (682094) on Friday August 20, 2010 @11:53AM (#33315554)

    iMoon, Wrinkle Different

  • by Hatta (162192) on Friday August 20, 2010 @11:57AM (#33315604) Journal

    That the moon is undergoing these kinds of changes shows that the moon is geologically active. There may be no convection going on in its core, but this is still geological activity.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      That the moon is undergoing these kinds of changes shows that the moon is geologically active. There may be no convection going on in its core, but this is still geological activity.

      It shows that there was geo-activity, not that it is currently geoactive.

    • What they are saying here is that there is no instability due to a liquid core. My guess is that ice is subliming from under the surface.

    • Isn't the moon hallow anyway?
  • by RNLockwood (224353) on Friday August 20, 2010 @12:02PM (#33315652) Homepage

    OMG, in a few thousand millennia the man in the moon will look like Ronald Reagan!

  • And slowly it collapses into a black hole...
  • .... it's a Space Apple.

  • The word "dehydrated" refers to the shrinking apple (no, not Apple). Yet, recall that water was found on the Moon a few months ago. Cool. Huh? :)

  • Well duh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sootman (158191) on Friday August 20, 2010 @12:29PM (#33316046) Homepage Journal

    Of course the moon is shrinking like an old apple. Someone left it out sitting in the sun.

  • Actually, bananas probably have the worst aerodynamics of any fruit. Good luck finding a stable orientation for one.

  • "Honey, I shrunk the moon" starting Rick Moranis.

    • by bjk002 (757977)

      IF Rick were involved, I'd imagine him wearing a black helmet and flying around in a huge steamer mop with Mel Brooks, sucking the water vapor from helpless planetoids.

  • As the moon is geologically inactive,.. ...the lunar crust (skin) is wrinkling as the body of the moon (the flesh) shrinks due to cooling contraction inside the moon's core.

    This is "geologically inactive?"

    • Well, the whole point of the article is: that's what we thought, but now it would seem we were wrong. That's scientific method for you. As for your confusion, that's a Slashdot paraphrase for you.
      • by wcrowe (94389)

        Ah. So it should have read, "As the moon was thought to be geologically inactive..."

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        As for your confusion, that's a Slashdot paraphrase for you.

        Unfortunately, we can't blame this one on kdawson.

  • by PPH (736903) on Friday August 20, 2010 @12:51PM (#33316432)

    ... it gets wrinkled.

    Pretty soon, it starts yelling at the kids to stay off its lawn.

  • What moon? We all know that almost ten years ago the moon was blown out of its orbit, and it now flies across "deep space", pausing at various dangerous planets and forcing the unfortunate occupants of Moonbase Alpha to have adventures, before continuing on:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WZW4groJro [youtube.com]
  • Because I've kind of gotten used to it.
  • When they start getting old, all you can really do is make pies with them.
  • by EkriirkE (1075937)

    I was listening to some dance/trance music. I though I had a problem with my speakers playing the video because I didn't notice any new sounds :o

  • Thanks a lot, Global Warming!
  • So not only is the moon getting further away from us, it is getting smaller as well. Please, do your part to keep the moon close.
  • In Space, No one can hear you shrink.
  • It amazes me that so many allegedly "educated" people have fallen so quickly and so hard for a fraudulent fabrication of such laughable proportions. The very idea that a gigantic ball of rock happens to orbit our planet, showing itself in neat, four-week cycles -- with the same side facing us all the time -- is ludicrous. Furthermore, it is an insult to common sense and a damnable affront to intellectual honesty and integrity. That people actually believe it is evidence that the liberals have wrested the la

    • by net28573 (1516385)
      i like to indulge in the subjects of conspiracies every so often and even i dont see the likelyhood of this story... honestly the aliens on the dark side of the moon conspiracy theory sounds more likely. i do understand that your post is a joke but still the whole historical evidence thing kinda killed it imo. i mean the moon was documented in many ways throughout history so... yeah :P -chaos out of structure and structure out of chaos
  • I would like to point out that before tectonics was relatively well understood and accepted (this only happened in the late 1960's), among the various models proposed to explain geological structures on the earth such as mountain belts was this exact idea.

    So personally, as someone interested in the history of the field of geology (and a geologist myself), I think this is really pretty awesome. Whoever came up with this idea before really had a great idea - I can't recall when it was but it was likely mid-late 1800's, so too bad he's not still around to see that his theory was plausible.

    It was understood well before the 1960's that this couldn't explain the earth's structures - it was not a seriously considered theory for very long for several reasons - but at least the idea is sound.

    And to comment on those who are saying that this proves the moon is geologically active, I think this is a pedantic point which depends on how you define "geologically active", and that's the kind of thing that has an obvious simple answer to start with but then gets complex when you have situations like this.

    As a geologist I would still define the moon as being inactive. Active to me would imply influences besides simply gravity (although gravity is of course a major driving force in earth-type tectonics, it's not the only factor). If you subdivide the earth into active and inactive areas, even the inactive areas will occasionally have things like earthquakes happen, due to intra-plate stresses or whatever. But you won't get volcanic activity or major tectonic activity in those areas, just like you won't on the moon.

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