NASA dubs 2024 Moon mission 'Artemis,' asks for $1.6 billion

SHRIVELLING The Moon is wrinkling like a raisin as its core shrinks

Over the last few hundred million years, the surface has contracted about 150 feet.

"Much as a grape wrinkles as it dries to become a raisin, the moon also wrinkles as its interior cools and shrinks", the press release explains. Since the moon's crust is brittle, these forces cause its surface to break as the interior shrinks, resulting in so-called thrust faults, where one section of crust is pushed up over an adjacent section.

These cracks in the moon's surface can cause moonquakes, sometimes as strong as level five on the Richter scale.

In 2010, Apollo mission seismic data showed that moon has been cooling and shrinking down. The ambitious mission's name will be Artemis, the Greek goddess of the moon and twin sister of Apollo. Researchers led by Thomas Watters, from the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., published their findings Monday in Nature Geoscience.

Those "moonquakes" ranged from a magnitude to 2 to 5, according to NASA. Eight quakes occurred close to faults. The instruments successfully detected 28 moonquakes that were likely caused by friction at tectonic faults before they were decommissioned in 1977. Researchers compared the location of the epicenters for those quakes with the orbiter imagery of the faults. They found it is less than 4 percent.

In 2010, Watters spearheaded a team that scrutinized images from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter instigated in 2009 and discerned innumerable serpentine cliffs administered broadly over the surface.

'And if we look at the history of moon landings, it was test pilots from the 1960s and 1970s, fighter pilots, and there were no opportunities for women back then.

The additional funds would bring the budget request total for the NASA programme to $22.6bn.

Similarly, tracks are apparent on slopes where boulders have been dislodged from perches on higher ground. A large landslide on South Massif that covered the southern segment of the Lee-Lincoln scarp is further evidence of possible moonquakes generated by fault slip events.

"This investment is a down payment on NASA's efforts and will allow us to move forward in design, development and exploration", said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.

The comparison revealed that around eight of the moonquakes occurred due to the activity along the faults.

It also includes $132 million and $90 million respectively for key exploration technologies such as solar electric propulsion and devices that convert polar ice to water, as well as increased robotic exploration of the moon's polar regions.

As it cools, the Moon also shrinks.

Scientists now hope to return to the Moon and learn more about what is happening to it. The relatively small size of the Moon's fault scarps is in line with the more subtle contraction expected from a partially molten scenario.

NASA announced that it will send the first woman ever, and first man in five decades, to the Moon in a mission codenamed "Artemis" by 2024. Instead, any ongoing lunar geological resurfacing would be produced by the slow dissipation of heat from the Moon's core and the tidal stresses that Earth puts on Luna as it orbits.

The revised plan from NASA calls for launching components of the small, space-station-like Lunar Gateway on commercial rockets by 2024.

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