It seems that the Moon may not be just an inert rock orbiting our planet, as researchers have spotted hints of tectonic activity there, space.com reports.
According to the media outlet, the data supplied by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter led scientists to discover what appears to be :a number of ridges with exposed bedrock, free of lunar regolith”, which may hint at the lunar surface being broken by some tectonic process “not too long ago."
"There's this assumption that the Moon is long dead, but we keep finding that that's not the case," said Peter Schultz, planetary geologist at Brown University and co-author of the new study. "From this paper it appears that the Moon may still be creaking and cracking - potentially in the present day - and we can see the evidence on these ridges."
Using the Orbiter's Diviner Instrument, which allows for measuring the temperature of the moon's surface, scientists uncovered “500 patches of exposed bedrock on narrow ridges across the moon's surface near the lunar maria”, that apparently “line up” with ancient cracks in the lunar crust through which magma used to flow to the surface.
"It's almost a one-to-one correlation," Schultz remarked. "That makes us think that what we're seeing is an ongoing process driven by things happening in the moon's interior."
Schultz and Adomas Valantinas, a graduate student at the University of Bern in Switzerland and leader of the science team, now believe that they've discovered an Active Nearside Tectonic System which may have begun aeons ago when the moon “experienced a significant impact”.
"Giant impacts have long-lasting effects. The moon has a long memory. What we're seeing on the surface today is testimony to its long memory and secrets it still holds," Schultz said.