Lunar bases must be 'sturdier' after higher rate of meteorites found battering moon (PHOTOS, VIDEO)
It has been pummeled at least 222 times by meteorites in the last seven years - a 33 percent increase on scientists’ predictions, according to a new paper published in Nature journal.
The spike in impacts was captured by the moon-observing spacecraft, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).
In early 2016, the ESA revealed its research into potential lunar ‘pod’ stations, forming a permanent ‘village’ on the moon’s surface.
In light of the new impact research, NASA says that any potential lunar bases built on the moon “may have to be made sturdier” to withstand primary and secondary meteoroid impacts.
“While a direct hit from a meteoroid is still unlikely, a more intense rain of secondary debris thrown out by nearby impacts may pose a risk to surface assets,” according to NASA
The research also indicates that the moon’s many impact craters may not be as old as previously thought.
Before LRO began monitoring the moon, it was thought that it took millions of years of meteoroid impacts to carve a 2cm (0.8 inches) indent into the lunar surface.
However, some of the fresh impacts measure more than 10 meters in diameter, meaning that surface changes are occurring much quicker than previously believed.
"New images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) are revealing small surface changes that are transforming the surface much faster than previously thought," said Emerson Speyerer, a research engineer from Arizona State who is lead author of the study.
LRO has captured more than 1 million high-res images of the moon’s surface since it entered orbit in 2009 and Speyerer’s team have analyzed more than 14,000 before-and-after photos to make 222 surprising crater discoveries.
"The newly determined churning rate means that the Apollo astronaut tracks will be gone in tens of thousands of years rather than millions," said the paper’s co-author, Mark Robinson.
No-one has set foot on the moon in four decades, however, in May, Roscosmos announced plans to launch manned lunar missions in 2025.