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The Moon Is Shrinking Like a Wrinkled Apple

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the that's-no-apple dept.

Moon 116

astroengine writes "New observations by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter have uncovered a number of previously unknown, recently formed 'lobate scarps' — raised cliffs about 9 meters high and several kilometers long — over the lunar surface. These scarps form along thrust faults where compression forces the moon's crust to rise. Up until now it was thought these lobate scarps only occurred around the lunar equator, but the high resolution LRO imagery suggests they are ubiquitous, regardless of latitude. As the moon is geologically inactive, what could be creating these features? It would appear the moon's surface is acting like the skin of an apple surrounding the shrinking, dehydrated flesh of the fruit; the lunar crust (skin) is wrinkling as the body of the moon (the flesh) shrinks due to cooling contraction inside the moon's core."

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The analogy is all wrong (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33315330)

This more like the aging of a round of cheese.

I guess there isn't any water in there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33315370)

So lets stop wasting money looking for it, and just supporting the contractors who are friends of politicians.

Re:The analogy is all wrong (4, Funny)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315404)

"That's no moon - it's an aging round of cheese."

"An aging round of cheese? No one could make an aging round ..... wait a minute...Chewie quick, get out the crackers..."

Re:The analogy is all wrong (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#33318206)

Forget Chewie, what about Gromit?

Re:The analogy is all wrong (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315758)

This more like the aging of a round of cheese.

This is Slashdot. You need to use a car analogy instead.

Re:The analogy is all wrong (1)

TrisexualPuppy (976893) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315972)

This is Slashdot. You need to use a car analogy instead.

No, no, you got that all wrong. Let's start again, and I'll give you a little hint...

That's no moon.

Re:The analogy is all wrong (2, Funny)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316954)

Oh, I think it was Gouda nuff...

Re:The analogy is all wrong (2, Funny)

FiloEleven (602040) | more than 3 years ago | (#33319072)

Don't Brie silly, the Tyning was all off.

Re:The analogy is all wrong (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317770)

This is Slashdot. You need to use a car analogy instead.

If we called it a cheese wheel, would that be close enough? :-P

Re:The analogy is all wrong (0, Redundant)

Skater (41976) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315862)

Well, the moon is made of cheese, so...

Re:The analogy is all wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33316024)

those rats we sent into space in 60s have finally made it to the moon

Amazing (5, Funny)

Ardeaem (625311) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315336)

It's amazing that can happen over the span of just 6,000 years.

Re:Amazing (1)

Joshua Fan (1733100) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315606)

And now, because of the Slashdot feature, experts are certain the moon will crumble and rain down hellfire on us in a few years.

Re:Amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33316178)

Only if a right wind blogger claims that it's Obama's fault.

Re:Amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33317890)

Exactly the same will happen when a left wing one blames Bush.

Re:Amazing (1)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316550)

Finally a plausible 2012 teaching. The moon would be split into pieces.

All that happened just because in 2009 the Space Nazis [youtube.com] drilled for gold. They planned the financial crisis together with the skulls and bones [youtube.com] . The Space Nazis wanted to "get rich big" by selling moon gold.

Re:Amazing (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317968)

Get your little pointy forks and bread ready. A fondu downpour will happen any day now.

Re:Amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33318552)

No what I find amazing is with a modicum of anonymity people can turn into total douches. Then take the chance to 'act all better' than someone because of something they might believe.

http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/3/19/

And if you dont think you were acting like a douche think about *WHY* you came on here today to make the statement you did.

I'm crushing your head! (1)

Zeek40 (1017978) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315340)

I mean moon! I'm crushing your moon!

Re:I'm crushing your head! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33315468)

*Holds thumb up*

Nobody's home!!

It's just (4, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315342)

it's just shrinkage cuz it's cold in space. Happens to every moon, doesn't it?

Re:It's just (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33315816)

What do you mean, like laundry?

Re:It's just (2, Funny)

capo_dei_capi (1794030) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316544)

And here I thought there are no women on the internet...

Re:It's just (1, Funny)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317924)

Of course there are women on the internet. Hell if it wasn't for women 93% of the internet would vanish.

Re:It's just (1)

whovian (107062) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316266)

it's just shrinkage cuz it's cold in space. Happens to every moon, doesn't it?

It is very cold....in spaccccccccce.

Re:It's just (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317022)

From hells heart, I stab at thee.

Re:It's just (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317104)

Nah, it's shrinking and wrinkling 'cause it's gettin' old. Like your mom.

Re:It's just (1)

PachmanP (881352) | more than 3 years ago | (#33318916)

Nah, it's shrinking and wrinkling 'cause it's gettin' old. Like your mom.

Hey! I was with his mom the other day, and she is most definitely not wrinkling (at least where it counts). She also had quite a lot of pent up...uh...energy.

Re:It's just (1)

unix1 (1667411) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317686)

Happens to every moon, doesn't it?

That's right. In fact, Steve Jobs has scheduled a press conference later today demonstrating that, contrary to NASA's claim, this has nothing to do with Apple specifically. He will show pictures of moons from other planets that experience the same "shrinkage" if you look at them in a certain way. Sources familiar with the situation say the moons in the demo will resemble other fruits including different berries. YouTube videos will follow the press conference.

Nuke it (2, Funny)

Loomismeister (1589505) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315372)

The only way to guarantee our safety is to nuke it to ashes before anything unexpected or bad happens. Plus everyone will receive free apple pie from the sky.

Re:Nuke it (2, Funny)

dimuziom (1756364) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315440)

That's like the inverse of "nuke the site from orbit, it's the only way to be sure." Well played.

I think that was plan 5 plan 9 is even dumber (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315508)

The only way to guarantee our safety is to nuke it to ashes before anything unexpected or bad happens. Plus everyone will receive free apple pie from the sky.

I think that was plan 5 plan 9 is even dumber

Re:I think that was plan 5 plan 9 is even dumber (1)

Peach Rings (1782482) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315582)

Here's the plan. We fire a large volume of rubber debris directly into the Moon's craters, plugging them up and preventing the Moon from pumping out any more deadly space anthrax.

Re:Nuke it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33316098)

I want a Pink Ponie, and Rainbows!

Re:Nuke it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33318562)

I was hoping for a traditional American cheese cake with blueberry and French Cream topping. There's piece of heaven with the blue and the white right there, from the sky. I'd go nucular over it.

Al Gore says.. (5, Funny)

al3k (1638719) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315402)

It's lunar cooling!!

Re:Al Gore says.. (0, Flamebait)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315434)

dear GOD! Quick - onerous taxation to the rescue!

We only have 10 years to repair all the damage we've done to the moon, or it will be too late ;)

Re:Al Gore says.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33316010)

We only have 10 years to repair all the damage we've done to the moon, or it will be too late ;)

You laugh, but I don't think it's coincidence that we never noticed these changes until after we landed on the Moon.

Re:Al Gore says.. (2, Funny)

bwayne314 (1854406) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315838)

hes super-cereal guys!

Re:Al Gore says.. (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316006)

Nope. It's still Global Warming. Remember that movie where New York was frozen solid by Global Warming, releasing the wolves. This is the same thing. Better be ready for the Lunar Wolves to attack.

Re:Al Gore says.. (2, Funny)

WoRLoKKeD (1142351) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317006)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the last time the Luna Wolves did a major attack, didn't we end up with a galaxy-crushing war on our hands?

Re:Al Gore says.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33318748)

Pressures of the gravity ease as the Moon distances itself from the obviously mad Earth very, very slowly and carefully.

Viagra for The Moon! (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315414)

Quick! Send all your Viagra emails there! The Moon needs Viagra! It's shrinking like it was stuck in cold water!

teehee (2, Funny)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315448)

Frylock: "What happened to your body, man?"
Meatwad: "Well, it's obvious isn't it? Thermal expansion."
Frylock: "No it's not thermal expansion. I know what thermal expansion is."
Meatwad: "Okay, fine. I'm sure that you do. Let's see, how can I explain this without blowing your mind?"
Frylock: "Oh yes, please. Dumb it down for me."
Meatwad: "Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle tells us that at a specific curvature of space, knowledge can be transferred into energy."
Frylock: "Heisenberg's Uncert-"
Meatwad: "Or...and this is key now...matter."
Frylock: "No it does not!"
Meatwad: "Well, some people struggle with Heisenberg. Look! Here's a toy! It goes up and down on a string, doesn't that look like fun?"
Frylock: "Get that thing out of my face!"
Meatwad: "Why don't you go take that into the other room, while the adults are doing important research here."
Frylock: "Oh, I'm sorry professor. I didn't realize that knowledge could also transform you into an arrogant ass."

Wrinkled Apple (5, Funny)

Inda (580031) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315458)

All this Apple bashing on Slashdot is doing my head in. Can't you just give it a rest for a single day?

I'm so angry. Cancel my subscription. I'm done here.

"Shrinking Like a Wrinkled Apple" (-1, Flamebait)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315904)

because "Shrinking Like Steve Jobs With Liver Disease" is just mean

In this manner.... (0)

GPLDAN (732269) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315466)

The moon is just like Larry King.



KAH - BOOMZAZAZAZA! I'll be here all week, try the veal and please tip your waiter.

Re:In this manner.... (3, Funny)

mortonda (5175) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316084)

Only it's not quite as old....

Re:In this manner.... (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316482)

The moon is just like Larry King.

Don't be silly. Larry King is many orders of magnitude older.

Tides? (4, Interesting)

egburr (141740) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315490)

My first thought was couldn't this be more of a tidal effect than due to shrinking? After all, look at what the orbiting mass of the moon does to our oceans. Wouldn't the mass of the earth have a similar effect on the moon? Even if it is tide-locked so the same face always faces the earth, surely there's some slight wobble to that that would cause stress.

Re:Tides? (5, Funny)

Peach Rings (1782482) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315598)

Hur dur, except that's exactly what was surprising about finding the scarping places other than the lunar equator.

Re:Tides? (1, Flamebait)

TimHunter (174406) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315624)

My first thought was couldn't this be more of a tidal effect than due to shrinking?

What a brilliant idea! Why don't you call up "David Morrison, senior scientist at NASA's Lunar Science Institute and NASA's 'Ask an Astrobiologist' http://astrobiology.nasa.gov/ask-an-astrobiologist/ [nasa.gov] expert" and share your insight with him?

Say something like "Hey Dave! I've RTF summary on Slashdot and now I think I know more about this than you do."

Then post back and tell us what happened.

Re:Tides? (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315700)

Well there's your problem. If he were an Astrogeologist then people might stop discounting his theories.

Re:Tides? (0, Redundant)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317214)

> David Morrison, senior scientist at NASA's Lunar Science Institute

> "Ancient calendars are interesting to historians, but of they cannot match the ability we have today to keep track of time, or the precision of the calendars currently in use."

The Mayan Calender (365.2420 days) is more accurate then the Gregorian Calendar (365.2425 days) compared to the solar tropical year of 365.2422 days.

Apparently he has never read "Calendar: Humanity's Epic Struggle to Determine a True and Accurate Year"

> "There are many objectives of government, but they do not include keeping the population at ease."

Riiiiiight, so "National Security", and the Declaration of Independence's "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." is just a a myth...

Methings David should stick to just Astrobiology instead of exposing his ignorance...

Re:Tides? (3, Interesting)

Froze (398171) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315650)

I think the idea is that tidal distortions would be almost exclusively limited to the equatorial regions, this appears to be radially isomorphic, indicating that it is not the result of tidal stress.

Re:Tides? (0)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315948)

But tides are caused by the moon and I say screw newtons 3rd law.

I think gravitational forces may not cause that problem as it will pull the moon but then pull it back when it rotates 180 degrees (as for the earths observation) I don't think those forces would create that type of an effect. Or you may be able to see more exaggerated features on Jupiter's moons.

Re:Tides? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 3 years ago | (#33319002)

I think gravitational forces may not cause that problem as it will pull the moon but then pull it back when it rotates 180 degrees (as for the earths observation) I don't think those forces would create that type of an effect.

Someone did explain to you that the moon doesn't rotate relative to Earth, right? Same face is looking at us all the time...

If no-one has explained that yet, consider this to be a brief introduction: the moon is "tide-locked" to Earth, and its rotation period is the same as its orbital period. What this means is that tidal effects of the Earth on the moon are never cancelled out "when it rotates 180 degrees (as for the earths observation)"....

Re:Tides? (3, Interesting)

ewskau (1883212) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316136)

The article does not mention this at all, but if the moon is shrinking then its rotational period must be getting shorter (angular momentum). There does not seem to be an indication that the period of the moon is decreasing, suggesting its either too small of an effect, not there, or not being looked for.

Re:Tides? (3, Interesting)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317508)

Interesting point. However, I think tidal locking [wikipedia.org] makes it a little more complicated than that.

I'm not sure what happens when a tidally locked satelite's diameter gradually changes, but given that tidal locking is an equalibrium state it seems reasonable to suspect that the tidal lock is preserved.

If so, then as the moon's rotation would naturally tend to speed up, the Earth would pull back on it. This would reduce the increase in rotation, but to preserve angular momentum it would also have to increase the orbital period - meaning the moon would move to a lower orbit with both its period of orbit and its period of rotation slightly reduced.

Re:Tides? (5, Interesting)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 3 years ago | (#33318406)

This would reduce the increase in rotation, but to preserve angular momentum it would also have to increase the orbital period - meaning the moon would move to a lower orbit with both its period of orbit and its period of rotation slightly reduced.

You were right before the dash: it will increase the orbital period, not reduce it as you said (contradicting yourself) after the dash. This will push the moon into a higher orbit, not a lower one. And indeed, the moon is moving 38mm further away every year, although this is primarily due to the same effect slowing the Earth's rotation rather than the Moon's.

Re:Tides? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33317628)

It may be happening at a slow enough rate that the tidal forces which have locked the near side of the moon to face us counteract the change in angular momentum. They aren't talking about *new* wrinkles, just wrinkles they couldn't see before.

Re:Tides? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33316840)

I think that's a reasonable assumption. We all remember the opening credits of "Thundarr the Barbarian" -- the moon splitting apart, causing incalculable devastation to the Earth's surface?

I wouldn't buy any beach front property if I were you...

Re:Tides? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#33319310)

Shrinking wasn't the first thing that came to my mind either. There should be some horrendously large ridges pushed up, some obvious fault escarpments and such.

I was thinking expansion, like the mid-atlantic rift, but I'd go for gravitational deformation as an equally probable cause.

I'm sure the scientists making the claim have some reason to suspect shrinkage, but solid body shrinkage is not they postulate on any other moons, so why raise that suggestion here?

I'll bet (0, Troll)

OdoylesRule (1765008) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315514)

Al Gore already has a PowerPoint describing in depth how it's mankind's fault!

Re:I'll bet (0, Redundant)

ThinkWeak (958195) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315668)

Mankind.....or Manbearpig!

Nah... (2, Funny)

davev2.0 (1873518) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315516)

It is just a side effect of my lunar mining operations.

So it's the next Apple product (2, Funny)

microbee (682094) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315554)

iMoon, Wrinkle Different

Re:So it's the next Apple product (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33315958)

Soon to be followed by iBlewUpTheMoon [teamfortress.com]

Re:So it's the next Apple product (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317998)

His Jobsness will never approve that name.

Geologically inactive? (4, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315604)

That the moon is undergoing these kinds of changes shows that the moon is geologically active. There may be no convection going on in its core, but this is still geological activity.

Re:Geologically inactive? (2, Informative)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316016)

That the moon is undergoing these kinds of changes shows that the moon is geologically active. There may be no convection going on in its core, but this is still geological activity.

It shows that there was geo-activity, not that it is currently geoactive.

Re:Geologically inactive? (1)

avandesande (143899) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317882)

What they are saying here is that there is no instability due to a liquid core. My guess is that ice is subliming from under the surface.

Shrinking like the skin of an apple (2, Funny)

RNLockwood (224353) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315652)

OMG, in a few thousand millennia the man in the moon will look like Ronald Reagan!

We're doomed (1)

docilespelunker (1883198) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315732)

And slowly it collapses into a black hole...

That's no moon (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315736)

.... it's a Space Apple.

Dehydrated (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315744)

The word "dehydrated" refers to the shrinking apple (no, not Apple). Yet, recall that water was found on the Moon a few months ago. Cool. Huh? :)

Re:Dehydrated (1)

Jhyrryl (208418) | more than 3 years ago | (#33315852)

The aliens are stealing it!

This might be a stupid question but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33316012)

Could it not be liquid water beneath the surface freezing and thawing as the moon rotates?

Well duh. (3, Insightful)

sootman (158191) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316046)

Of course the moon is shrinking like an old apple. Someone left it out sitting in the sun.

Fruit flies like a banana. (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316066)

Actually, bananas probably have the worst aerodynamics of any fruit. Good luck finding a stable orientation for one.

I don't understand the analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33316104)

Could someone explain this using cars?

Coming soon from Disney.... (1)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316114)

"Honey, I shrunk the moon" starting Rick Moranis.

nah... (1)

bjk002 (757977) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317880)

IF Rick were involved, I'd imagine him wearing a black helmet and flying around in a huge steamer mop with Mel Brooks, sucking the water vapor from helpless planetoids.

Geologically inactive? (1)

wcrowe (94389) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316262)

As the moon is geologically inactive,.. ...the lunar crust (skin) is wrinkling as the body of the moon (the flesh) shrinks due to cooling contraction inside the moon's core.

This is "geologically inactive?"

Re:Geologically inactive? (1)

TheRedDuke (1734262) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316592)

Well, the whole point of the article is: that's what we thought, but now it would seem we were wrong. That's scientific method for you. As for your confusion, that's a Slashdot paraphrase for you.

Re:Geologically inactive? (1)

wcrowe (94389) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317472)

Ah. So it should have read, "As the moon was thought to be geologically inactive..."

It gets old ... (4, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316432)

... it gets wrinkled.

Pretty soon, it starts yelling at the kids to stay off its lawn.

What Moon? (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316742)

What moon? We all know that almost ten years ago the moon was blown out of its orbit, and it now flies across "deep space", pausing at various dangerous planets and forcing the unfortunate occupants of Moonbase Alpha to have adventures, before continuing on:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WZW4groJro [youtube.com]

Does this mean that the "Ch" will be smaller? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316798)

Because I've kind of gotten used to it.

Tunnels (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33316972)

Why do we need such a convoluted explanation when those are obviously tunnels?

Derp. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33317202)

Wow, Global Warming is getting REALLY bad...

Moonpies! (1)

VickiM (920888) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317250)

When they start getting old, all you can really do is make pies with them.

its sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33317572)

its just sad that NASA is giving preference to Mars over Moon.......it will get over it

Listening to music (0, Offtopic)

EkriirkE (1075937) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317574)

I was listening to some dance/trance music. I though I had a problem with my speakers playing the video because I didn't notice any new sounds :o

Re:Listening to music (1)

EkriirkE (1075937) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317762)

Wrong thread, disregard!

Re:Listening to music (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | more than 3 years ago | (#33318774)

What the hell are you talking about...

Global Warming... (1)

DWIM (547700) | more than 3 years ago | (#33318058)

Thanks a lot, Global Warming!

Now this? (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#33318414)

So not only is the moon getting further away from us, it is getting smaller as well. Please, do your part to keep the moon close.

It's the Alien (1)

phoenixwade (997892) | more than 3 years ago | (#33318502)

In Space, No one can hear you shrink.

My guess.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33319702)

I think the "geologically inactive" bid is wrong, or we have to redefine what we mean by it. Several miles of "faults" raised 30 ft?... sounds like the geology IS active. The real question is where the energy doing it comes from. Impacts, solar, geothermal... etc

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