The Moon Is Alive (For Now)

What’s going on with that stupid piece of rock up in space?

Earth’s Moon appears seismically quiet: its major volcanic and tectonic activity is confined to its distant past, as evidenced by the lack of new large-scale features on the surface. However, recent images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) have revealed smaller features that had escaped earlier notice. Several regions exhibit small ravines known as graben that are free of cratering or other marring, which indicates relatively recent formation.

A new paper in Nature Geoscience (by Thomas R. Watters, Mark S. Robinson, Maria E. Banks, Thanh Tran, and Brett W. Denevi) suggests these shallow graben may have formed within the last 50 million years. While this activity is not precisely new, it postdates the last major tectonic activity, which ended roughly 1.2 billion years ago. Since graben form under extension — the stretching of rock by internal pressures — the authors argue that the Moon’s interior may still have a significant molten component, and that its cooling and contraction is producing new features on small scales.

Oh, ho ho ho, the moon is still alive, is it? GOOD. Now we know it will really feel it when we mine the fuck out of it! I mean, I was perfectly happy to blow that stupid piece of shit up even when I thought it was dead — which, for all intents and purposes it is, because it’s COMPLETELY USELESS — but the very idea that it will gasp and cry out as we pierce its crusty shell with our sharp and pointy implements of destruction makes the whole thing even more delicious. Take it all, moon!

Photo by fotum, via Shutterstock