NASA Spacecraft Reveals Recent Geological Activity on the Moon

  • Released Monday, February 20th, 2012
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:53PM

New images acquired by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft show that the moon's crust is being slightly stretched, forming small valleys - at least in some small areas. High-resolution images obtained by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) provide evidence that these valleys are very young, suggesting the moon has experienced relatively recent geologic activity.

A series of graben in a patch of mare basalts that occupy a valley south of Mare Humorum cut across and deformed several small diameter impact craters. The walls and floors of the graben crosscut a degraded 27 m diameter crater (inset, upper white arrow) and a 7 m diameter crater (inset, lower white arrow). Since small craters only have a limited lifetime before they are destroyed by other impacts, their deformation by graben indicates that these fault-bound troughs are relatively young.

Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University/Smithsonian Institution

Newly detected series of narrow linear troughs are known as graben, and they fomed in highland materials on lunar farside. Forces acting to pull the lunar crust apart formed the Virtanen graben, informally named for a nearby impact crater. These graben are located on a topographic rise with several hundred meters of relief revealed in topography derived from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) stereo images (blues are lower elevations and reds are higher elevations). The rise is flanked by the rim of a ~2.5 km diameter degraded crater.

Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University/Smithsonian Institution



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  • NASA Spacecraft Reveals Recent Geological Activity on the Moon (ID: 2012021)
    Monday, February 20, 2012 at 5:00AM
    Produced by - Brendan Antiochos