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Don't Panic, But The Moon Is Shrinking Because Of Our Planet

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The tidal movement of our seas, oceans and even some rivers are all caused by a giant ball of rock spinning around us some 384,400 kilometres away.

Which is awesome, if you think about it. Gravitational pulls that you can't feel are forcing billions of litres of water around every second of the day. 

But it turns out this is a two-way relationship, and the Moon is on the meaner end of the deal.

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has been snapping detailed photos of the Moon since 2009. As scientists have poured over these images, they've noticed that "new" cracks and fault lines have been appearing in the surface of Moon.

The cause? Partly us, and partly due to the Moon's long, slow process of cooling down. 

Moon

As the core of the Moon cools (a one-billion-year process that began as soon as it was formed), parts of its mantle turn from a liquid to a solid state - shrinking in the process. A study published in Geology has found that the cracks and ridges on the surface of the Moon are caused by the Earth's gravitational pull on these shrinking, brittle areas.

"We propose that tidal stresses contribute significantly to the current stress state of the lunar crust," writes the report. Incredibly, the study believes that you can line up the faults on the Moon directly with ocean movement on Earth. 

So don't go running any impossibly lavish baths in the next few million years - you might be responsible for the next major Moon fault.

(Images: NASA)

[Via: i100]

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