Monday, October 2

The first moonquake in decades was recorded by India’s lunar lander.

The Chandrayaan-3 mission, launched by India, became the first lander to reach the moon’s South Pole. However, the data received by the spacecraft and its rover is already quite fascinating.

Scientists detected indications of a lunar phenomenon in the data, marking the first recorded’moonquake’ in several decades.

The Chandrayaan-3 lunar rover was captured on August 30, 2023, and transported to the moon’s surface. This image is provided by ISRO.

A moonquake is similar to an earthquake in that it doesn’t have active plate tectonics, which makes it much rarer and weaker. In essence, the Earth’s Tectonical plates are brushing past each other, creating friction and stress that causes earthquakes. Without this process, other processes with less energy cause the moon’references to occur.

The impact of meteorites can cause some moonquakes, while the cold weather can also trigger others. The Apollo missions’ seismometers provided early information about mooncracy, but they were deactivated in 1977.

Chandrayaan-3 has detected the first moonquake on record since 1977, according to recent reports.

According to ISRO, the lunar lander’s seismometer was used to detect a moonquake on August 26, 2023, which is currently under investigation.

This is not just a curiosity; this is also important. Earthquakes (and hence, moonquake) are one of the primary ways to determine the internal structure of planets and satellites. A seismometer detects vibrations from the subsurface, which are caused by seismic waves. The properties of these layers can be determined by studying their propagation patterns.

This is how we know that the Earth has an inner core and an outer core, even though we haven’t drilled far enough into the planet’s core. Our understanding of the moon is limited, but we are making progress.

We require more seismic data, such as the one being gathered now. Additionally, researchers are working on improving ways to analyze the data. For instance, computer models and processing tools have enabled scientists to build a better understanding of the moon’s mysterious interior from within the Apollo program.

The moon’s core was found to be composed of fluid iron, as per a NASA study in 2011. It is believed that this ball of iron is denser than Earth and surrounds it. Gravitational data from 2023 confirms this hypothesis.

Despite ongoing efforts to unravel the origins of the moon, scientists are still uncertain. They believe that it originated from a Martian satellite striking the Earth, which created ice crystals that eventually formed into ring form. However, there are multiple explanations and some uncertainty surrounding these variations. The moon interior may not be magnetic, unlike the earth’s interior. Conversely, rocks collected by moon missions appear to have formed in elastomers, and it is unclear how this occurred.

Chandrayaan-3 and its companion spacecraft are currently in sleep mode, meaning they will remain dormant for 14 days during the lunar “night”. Later, when the sun returns to the moon’s south pole, we can resume the missions.

In addition to Earth and its Moon, Mars has been linked to earthquakes, while Venus and Mercury have been identified as potential sites for quakes, but no direct detection has yet been made by a lander.

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