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Scientists have found the most unexpected cause of moonquakes: abandoned Apollo 17 lander

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In a new report published September 5th, the study claims that the landing stage of the Apollo 17 mission left on the lunar surface causes moonquakes. For the first time, researchers identified a previously unknown form of seismic activity on the Moon using advanced algorithms that analyse the Apollo-era data.

Source of images: NASA.

The Moon can’t stand the clouds a lot, and in its shaded areas the temperature drops to -133 degrees Celsius, and in those exposed to direct sunlight increases to +121 degrees Celsius, which can lead to explosion and contraction of the landing structure of the orbital missile. It also imposes a certain impact on the surface of the natural satellite. This is related to the observation of vibrations.

The researchers say that the changing temperature and the resulting expansion and contraction of the surface will tempt the entire Moon to shake frequently. However, the use of modern AI algorithm allowed the analysis in detail of the data obtained from a satellite station, obtained using equipment used to study seismic activity, to allow the discovery of several hundred meters from the Apollo 17 landing module.

The work, led by Francesco Civilini, a former postdoctoral fellow of Caltech and now a postdoctoral fellow at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, gives new insight into the way the Moon reacts to its environment and what may affect its seismic activity. The moonquakes caused by the Apollo 17 lander are harmless and probably wouldn’t even be noticed by anyone on the surface of the moon.

The Moon and the permanent basis of the American lunar exploration program, Artemis, are key goals. For example, knowing about moonquakes will help you understand how strong it is to build permanent structures on the surface of the satellite and how complex problems will arise.

Every Apollo lunar lander was equipped with an instrument to detect moonquakes. What stood out about the Apollo 17, was that the module, launched in 1972 and subsequently abandoned on the satellite surface, was equipped with seismic sensors that detect possible thermal moonquakes, or tremors caused by the moon night cycles, when temperature on the surface of the satellite varies between significantly and far below zero.

That is how the Apollo 17 seismometer was able to record thousands of these signals over an eight month period from 1976 to 1977. But the quality of the data is very difficult, so they can’t find them as accurate as they can. The researchers developed algorithms to predict the timing of these [] waves, to calculate the magnitude of seismic signals and to calculate the direction of the moonquakes.

The lander and landing stage of Apollo 17 mission took place on Challenger’s journey. Wikipedia, full-text.

Scientists have re-examined this data for the first time in decades. A fresh analysis has revealed a certain form of lunarquakes, called “impulsive thermal moonquakes”, that occurn’t from natural sources, but because of the heating and cooling of a abandoned lander.

The module begins to vibrate every lunar morning, when solar activity is very intense. New tremors occur every five or six minutes. There were five to seven days on Earth. The scientists write that the observed activity was incredibly regular and repetitive.

These lunar tremors are similar to those called out as arisent thermal quakes, most likely caused by natural reactions of the moon’s surface under the influence of solar activity, scientists said. Scientists hope lunar missions to detail this phenomenon in a more detailed way.

As a result, the satellite sometimes experiences a deeper and shorter-lasting tremors, likely to blame for meteorite impact. It’s important to note that unlike the Earth, where earthquakes are caused by tectonic plates, so such activity can’t be observed on the Moon. The scientists say that despite popular belief, our orbiting satellites are very active in nature. In the Moon depths, seismic events are possible to occur anytime and anywhere in the vicinity.

Scientists are closely monitoring the Indian Space Flight Chandrayaan-3. The lander also has a sismometer. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has already confirmed that the instrument detected a moonquake. Indian experts haven’t published much information about the event yet. The Indian device has stopped for a year now. He is scheduled to awaken as soon as the sun hits the satellites south pole again.

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