Washington: Researchers said earth's gravitational pull is 'massaging' the moon, opening up faults in the lunar crust.
New images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft revealed earth's gravity has influenced the orientation of thousands of faults that form in the lunar surface as the moon shrinks.
Just as the moon influences the tides on earth, earth does the same thing to the moon, researchers said.
Although scientists have known this phenomenon for a while, the recent findings helped them to confirm that the pull from earth is creating faults on the moon's surface.
“We know the close relationship between the Earth and the moon goes back to their origins, but what a surprise [it was] to find the Earth is still helping to shape the moon,” study lead author Thomas Watters was quoted as saying.
Watters added it was a big surprise to find that the fault scarps don’t have random orientations.
Instead, “there is a pattern in the orientations of the thousands of faults, and it suggests something else is influencing their formation, something that’s also acting on a global scale,” Watters added. “That something is the Earth’s gravitational pull.”
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been orbiting the moon for six years, has imaged nearly three-fourths of the lunar surface at high resolution, allowing the discovery of over 3,000 more of these features.