Discoveries

Here’s Why Future Missions to the Moon Are Not Going to Be the Same Anymore

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Scientists Found the Moon Might Have Higher Impact Rate Potentially Affecting Plans of Future Lunar Base Missions
PHOTOGRAPH: Pixabay |

Every scar has a story, and that is saying the same with the moon. Scientists have found new lunar craters that show the astronomical body actually has a high dynamic that could impact future missions of sending space travelers back to Earth’s permanent natural satellite.

Moon’s Impact Rate

Almost all lunar craters are formed by impacts. And because there is no water, atmosphere or tectonic plates on the moon, there is nearly no erosion. With that, craters are essentially known to be over two billion years old.

The age of large craters is determined by the number of smaller craters surrounding them. Generally, a higher number of small craters is present on craters that are relatively older. This is also used by scientists to analyze the other rocky parts that cannot be sampled easily.

However, the moon’s contemporary cratering rate is not very well understood since the craters used to age-date younger craters get smaller and smaller. It was also a meticulous work needed to be done by scientists at the time manually.

Images from the Apollo missions in the 1970s are compared to the ones captured by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2009. Through hand-operated work, they were able to spot 44 new craters in the time span of intervening decades.

Scientists from the latest study, published in the journal Nature, used a computer program to cut down the manual process of comparing 14,092 before-and-after photos taken from random spots covering up to 6.6 percent of the moon’s surface. Through the shortened time of going through an image, they can allocate more time in investigating the changes.

More Younger Craters Found

The study, led by planetary scientist Emerson Speyerer from the Arizona State University, revealed 222 new craters from the cameras of the NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. These are all not seen from the “before” photos, and 16 of them have a diameter of 10 meters or larger.

The researchers are stunned to know the formation rate is 33 percent higher for larger craters. Moreover, they also found blast patterns created by molten and vaporized rocks from the initial impact.

Speyerer says their data would be useful in adjusting plans for sending humans back to the moon for a “long-term habitat.” There might be a smaller odd of getting hit by a meteor or asteroid, yet having one from only 30 to 40 kilometers away would release secondaries that could potentially hit man’s lunar base as our space traveler’s safety always comes first.

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