‘Strategic Location’ For Future Base at the Lunar South Pole is Being Rocked by Mysterious Moonquakes, NASA Images Reveal | NASA

Lunar South Pole.jpg

A NASA-funded study that evaluated a key strategic location on the Moon with help from imagery obtained by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has revealed the presence of moonquakes and faults in areas near the lunar south pole, which the space agency plans to utilize for future crewed space missions.

The study found that the Moon’s interior is shrinking over time as it cools, a phenomenon that is giving rise to tremors and other seismic activity occurring near the vicinity of the Moon’s south polar region.

The findings could present complications for NASA’s Artemis program, particularly its third mission which will involve crewed lunar exploration that may use the Moon’s south pole for potential landing sites.

Tom Watters, a Senior Scientist with the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies of the National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian Institution, says current models reveal shallow moonquakes resulting from fault activity that could produce violent ground shaking in the Moon’s south pole region.

Watters, an expert on tectonic landforms on the Earth and the Moon and the lead author of a paper detailing the new findings, says the potential thrust fault activity in the region “should be considered when planning the location and stability of permanent outposts on the Moon.”

LRO image depicting the the Wiechert cluster of lobate scarps, as detailed with arrows pointing leftward, located near the lunar south pole (Credit: NASA/LROC/ASU/Smithsonian Institution)

Currently, thousands of small, relatively new thrust faults have been detected in the lunar crust, as revealed in imagery collected by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). LRO Deputy Project Scientist Maria Banks, also a co-author of the new study, called the imagery “a good demonstration of one of the many ways in which LRO data is being used to assist planning for our return to the Moon.”

According to the team, these thrust faults detected in LRO…

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