New surface features of the Moon have been discovered in a region called Mare Frigoris, outlined here in teal. Image credit: NASA
Billions of years ago, Earth’s Moon formed vast basins called “mare”. Scientists have long assumed these basins were dead, still places where the last geologic activity occurred long before dinosaurs roamed the Earth.
But a survey of more than 12,000 images reveals that at least one lunar mare has been cracking and shifting as much as other parts of the Moon – and may even be doing so today. The study adds to a growing understanding that the Moon is an actively changing world.
Taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), the images reveal “wrinkle ridges” – curved hills and shallow trenches created by a lunar surface that is contracting as the Moon loses heat and shrinks. The features are described in a study published in Icarus on 7 March 2019, and led by Nathan Williams, a post-doctoral researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, United States.
Previous research has found similar surface features in the Moon’s highlands, but wrinkle ridges have never been seen in basins before now. For this study, Williams and his ...