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Moon May Be Geologically Active 72

dptalia writes, "For decades scientist have thought that the moon has been 'dead' for about 1 to 3 billion years. However, new research points to the idea that the moon may have been volcanically active as recently as 1 million years ago. In fact, NASA geophysicist Paul Lowman believes the moon's core is still molten."
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Moon May Be Geologically Active

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  • by revlayle ( 964221 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @12:23PM (#16787171) Homepage
    ... it doesn't get a GTD (Geologically Transmitted Disease)
  • Of the moon having a still-molten core. Interesting.
  • active molton core? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by joe 155 ( 937621 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @12:26PM (#16787197) Journal
    Wouldn't this be really easy to prove, I would have thought that if this was the case it would make the moon notably hotter than the ambient temperature of space, so could they not just stick an infra-red camera at it and look to see if there is a difference?
    I know I'm missing something but I'm not sure what...
    • >I know I'm missing something but I'm not sure what...
      how about the sun heating things up - quite a bit?
    • As other's have said, temerature is a property of matter. Specificly the average kinetic energy of a sample's molecules. Using this definition, the temperature of space near earth is actually quite high due to the solar wind and other particles whipping around at fantastic speeds. This doesn't mean, however, that there is much energy in absolute terms up there.
  • As some one who has no knowledge in this field, have we learned anything actualy interesting from this?
  • by casualsax3 ( 875131 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @12:30PM (#16787241)
    The fact that the moon as a very weak magnetic field is almost proof in and of itself that it doesn't have a molten core:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_field#Magnet ic_field_of_celestial_bodies [wikipedia.org]

  • Sorry, forgot the actual relevant link! http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/ask_astro/answer s/980310c.html [nasa.gov]
  • Obligatory (Score:2, Funny)

    by Kelz ( 611260 )
    Yeah yeah folks, we get it; Molten Core/WoW High ping blizzard servers based on moon etc/etc.
  • Good (Score:3, Funny)

    by Dr. Eggman ( 932300 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @12:37PM (#16787283)
    If it really is only 200-300 kilometers down, maybe it can provide geothermic-based electricity, then we don't need to deal with solar power on the moon.
  • Excellent! (Score:2, Funny)

    by The-Bus ( 138060 )

    "NASA geophysicist Paul Lowman believes the moon's core is still molten."

    Excellent! I'll still take these nacho chips but I won't need the microwave to make dip. I tell you, space flight gets simpler each year.

    What is the best area to dig? Is there a spot where the core is not too deep? Perhaps we can just make a small hole with a shovel and eat out of that, sort of like ice-fishing in the Sea of Tranquility. Only we're not fishing, just eating chips with bubbling hot, delicious all-natural cheese.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The remains of the lunar base of our long last ancestors who first colonized earth.
  • by Odin_Tiger ( 585113 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @12:42PM (#16787343) Journal
    RE:
    active molton core? by joe 155 (937621) on Thursday November 09, @10:26AM (#16787197)

    I'm not sure what you mean by 'ambient temperature of space', because temperature is a property of matter, and space is kinda empty, so there's nothing to compare it to, unless you want to call it absolute zero, in which case the moon will be quite a bit hotter than that no matter what.
    The next nearest approach I would think would be to figure roughly what temp. an otherwise 'dead' object of the moon's size would reach just through the ambient radiation in space, plus collisions (probably insignificant, but maybe not), etc. This has to be tougher than it seems at first glance, though, or I would expect they would have already figured it out.
  • Geologically active = not news

    The ten-year-old astronomy book I read to my five-year old son last week noted that the moon has several weak "moonquakes" every year. What's the news; the volcanic part?
  • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @12:44PM (#16787367) Homepage
    Turns out that the United States government has been building a secret bomb shelter on the dark side of the Moon. Considering the geological implications of Tuesday's election, the new lunar bomb shelter will become the last refuge for the Bush Administration if things get too unstable.
  • by DorkusMasterus ( 931246 ) <dorkmaster1.gmail@com> on Thursday November 09, 2006 @12:49PM (#16787403) Homepage
    Okay, so I'm going to preface this: I'm asking a QUESTION, not stating anything as fact, or whatever. So don't tag this flamebait on a kneejerk reaction. I'm honestly asking a question here.

    Okay, with that out of the way, my question is this: Does this tend to support creationism then (at least as opposed to a big bang with an extremely old universe), as a dead moon would likely be much older than a "recently" geologically active moon? Meaning, would this indicate a "newer, younger" moon, generally speaking? Just curious...
    • No. This has nothing to do with creationism. Not much of the real world has anything to do with creationism. And conversely, creationism doesn't have anything to do with the real world. Why? Because creationism doesn't tell us what the world should be like, and just not knowing how the world came to be what it is doesn't mean there's no natural way for it to happen. Probabilities? Now that's pure guesswork, not science.

      Yet again, this doesn't have anything to do with the age of the Moon either =). The qu

      • It looks like you're pidgeon-hole-ing me because I brought up a question that didn't say "religion sux".

        My point is that if a moon is molten (which I know, hasn't been proven, it's just "more supported" with this finding) at the core, then it likely is not as old as previously thought, as it would have, as you said, likely radiated it's heat much quicker, than say, the earth, as it was a smaller body. So, for it to have a molten core, would tend to lend itself to a younger creation (by whom/whatever, I'm n
        • Rofl, you are off by some magnitudes ...


          My point is that if a moon is molten (which I know, hasn't been proven, it's just "more supported" with this finding) at the core, then it likely is not as old as previously thought, as it would have, as you said, likely radiated it's heat much quicker, than say, the earth, as it was a smaller body. So, for it to have a molten core, would tend to lend itself to a younger creation (by whom/whatever, I'm not saying, please note that...) And would therefore lend itself t
  • We still know more about our moon then our own oceans
  • We still know more about our moon then our own oceans
    No we don't. You just made that up. Probably motivated by some kind of anti-space exploration ethic because you believe that we should spend more time looking at our own Earth (and think of the poor children living on it!) than looking up to the sky.
  • by thesandbender ( 911391 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @12:59PM (#16787519)
    If I remember correctly, moon quakes are the result of tidal forces between the earth and the moon... not geologic activity.
  • Just wait till it becomes fully operational.
  • i JUST heard that on the discovery channel.
    "We know more about our moon then the depths of our oceans"
  • by Tarlus ( 1000874 )
    "Evidently, the moon has recently been letting slip gases..."

    These would be referred to as "moonfarts".
  • by Apocalypse111 ( 597674 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @01:07PM (#16787577) Journal
    DorkusMasterus
    Okay, with that out of the way, my question is this: Does this tend to support creationism then (at least as opposed to a big bang with an extremely old universe), as a dead moon would likely be much older than a "recently" geologically active moon? Meaning, would this indicate a "newer, younger" moon, generally speaking?

    Well, if you were to disregard all other evidence that points to an old universe, and were just to take this one new bit of information (assuming its true) on its own without supporting context and information, then you could take it as evidence of creationism. However, due to the fact that we have a lot of evidence and information that supports an old universe, this tidbit, if true, is instead merely evidence that the moon has different properties than we initially thought, and that further investigation is required to understand the how's and why's of lunar geology and/or the origins of the moon. Regardless, if the moon is found to be younger than we initially thought, it does not necessarily follow that the whole universe is younger to match.
  • Re: Excellent! (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Marc_Hawke ( 130338 )
    RE:

    Excellent!
    (Score:2)
    by The-Bus (138060) Only we're not fishing, just eating chips with bubbling hot, delicious all-natural cheese.
    ----------------

    Wensleydale?
  • by Chacham ( 981 )
    Kewl. I mean hot.

    What are the chances of the moon itself getting its own moon. Right now the moon orbits around the earth that orbits around the sun. How many levels can we go?
  • I am in World of Warcraft detox [wowdetox.com] and do not want a relapse.
  • by east coast ( 590680 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @01:25PM (#16787681)
    Okay, with that out of the way, my question is this: Does this tend to support creationism then (at least as opposed to a big bang with an extremely old universe), as a dead moon would likely be much older than a "recently" geologically active moon? Meaning, would this indicate a "newer, younger" moon, generally speaking? Just curious...

    As I know it and as used in the "Inherit the Wind" play/Scopes trial: Going strictly by the bible and using terms in it as not exactly the terms we use today, there is no way to define the age of the universe. Since so much is open to interpretation that makes just about anything possible. There are certain figures who think that they can use the bible as a timeline to figure out the creation of the universe to a day. I don't know if any institutes support these claims or not.

    Either way the age of the moon even by the larger creationist theory means little and certainly means nothing about the age of the universe in the accepted scientific "big bang" theory of things. In either theory the universe could be seen as billions of years old without invalidating either one. By all scientific measures our sun is at least a second or third (or more) generation star because of the existence of heavier elements in the local neighborhood. With that in mind the age of the moon means nothing as well.

    This isn't even to mention that the earth is still geologically active and yet it's generally accepted to be older than the moon. And who's to say that a large impact wouldn't make the moon geologically active? I'm not qualified to make these assumption more than just mere musings so take it with a grain of salt or moon dust.
  • by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @01:28PM (#16787701) Journal
    it's the presence of a dipole. (There's some really terrible doulbe entendres to get from that, but I'll pass onthe opportunity).

    by casualsax3 (875131) Alter Relationship on Thursday November 09, @12:30PM (#16787241):
    The fact that the moon as a very weak magnetic field is almost proof in and of itself that it doesn't have a molten core:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_field#Magnet [wikipedia.org] ic_field_of_celestial_bodies [wikipedia.org]
    The moon's sidereal period is over 27 days, a strong magnetic field would not be expected. The major indicator that a molten core is not present is the lack of a dipolar field -- which a geodynamo (from the molten core) would cause.
    • The moon's sidereal period is over 27 days, a strong magnetic field would not be expected. The major indicator that a molten core is not present is the lack of a dipolar field -- which a geodynamo (from the molten core) would cause. There was me thinking that maxwell's equations would be much simpler if there was such a think as a magnetic monopole, but no. All we have is these damned dipoles. Please, do point out evidence of a magnet that isn't dipolar though.....
  • ...shouldn't that read "lunalogically active"?
  • Wouldn't this be really easy to prove, I would have thought that if this was the case it would make the moon notably hotter than the ambient temperature of space, so could they not just stick an infra-red camera at it and look to see if there is a difference? I know I'm missing something but I'm not sure what... Well, first of all, the ambient temperature of space is in the microwave region of the spectrum, not IR. Second, the moon absorbs an awful lot of light from the sun (there is no true "dark side" of
  • I believe the correct term is seleneologically active.

    And yes, only on /. would you see a thread like this.
  • The major indicator that a molten core is not present is the lack of a dipolar field -- which a geodynamo (from the molten core) would cause.

    I'm not sure you can equate "molten core" with "geodynamo." I mean, even assuming the moon had a molten core acting as a geodynamo and creating a field, and that that core cooled sufficiently, so that the spin was interrupted, wouldn't you end up with a smaller molten core that was not spinning in such a way as to generate a field and was just undergoing random flui

  • To http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=205741 &cid=16787241 [slashdot.org]
    Neednt be.
    Mars has a weak magnetic field. But its core is considered to be molten iron.
  • Nikolay Kozyrev [wikipedia.org] observed seismic activity in 1958.
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) Alter Relationship on Thursday November 09, @01:47PM (#16787847) ...

    I'm no geophysicist, but a celestial body with a molten core that was not spinning could certainly exist. Is it improbable that the moon is such a body?

    The moon revolves with a period of 27+ days (the sidereal period). Furthermore, any body in space with a molten core that moves with a regularly changing momentum (e.g., orbits anything) will revolve. This is due to the inertia of the molten core. So, a

  • Re: creationism (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geoffspear ( 692508 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @02:12PM (#16788009) Homepage
    Okay, with that out of the way, my question is this: Does this tend to support creationism then (at least as opposed to a big bang with an extremely old universe), as a dead moon would likely be much older than a "recently" geologically active moon?

    No. Even absolute proof that the moon was about 6000 years old would have nothing whatsoever to do with the Big Bang theory. No one thinks that the solar system is anywhere near as old at the universe itself, and the age of the objects in the solar system is miniscule compared to the time since the Big Bang.

    In any case, if your conjecture about "geologically active" = "created recently" was remotely plausible, why would you need to look at the moon at all? The Earth has plenty of active volcanos that you can go and look at, which by your logic would "prove" that the Earth isn't "old".
  • by benj_e ( 614605 )
    It would only have a magnetic field if the core was molten AND conductive.
  • So this explains why we havn't sent people to the moon in a while. The last time someone was there, they heard a voice booming "Too soon! You have awakened me too soon!"

    Coming to the conclusion that their equipment did not have sufficient Fire Resistance to face 'He who was ancient since the world was young', our band of astronauts ran like hell back to earth.

    NASA has been farming FR gear ever since.
  • by CptNerd ( 455084 )
    "Selenologically" I would think. Or "Artemologically" perhaps.

    It's all Greek to me, though...

  • The moon revolves with a period of 27+ days (the sidereal period). Furthermore, any body in space with a molten core that moves with a regularly changing momentum (e.g., orbits anything) will revolve. This is due to the inertia of the molten core. So, a celestial body with a molten core that does not spin is theoretically possible, but it would require that the body is not in orbit, or that the orbit's diameter is so huge that the angular momentum is insignificant.

    So you're arguing if the core is hot eno

  • by CptNerd ( 455084 )
    Well, tidal forces acting on the Moon would trigger selenologic activity, and could provide enough stress to keep he core molten, especially considering that the Sun would apply some gravitational stress, too. Tidal forces are believed to be the mechanism keeping Io volcanically active.

  • by Keruo ( 771880 ) *
    Sun heats moon surface enough to make it warmer than surrounding space.
    It cools down during lunar night, but it always remains warmer than surrounding space.
    So, no. Simply pointing a infra-red camera at it won't do the trick.
  • I thought the moon was made of earths crust (mostly rock composed of silicon and oxygen), which doesn't contain a large amount of iron. The earths core is largely made out of iron, which is electrically conductive and able to generate a magnetic field. I'd think it'd be difficult to generate a magnetic field without the ability to conduct electricity.

    So, the abscence of a magnetic field may only indicate the moon has a rocky (but possibly liquid) core.
  • The fact that the moon as a very weak magnetic field is almost proof in and of itself that it doesn't have a molten core: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_field#Magnet [wikipedia.org] ic_field_of_celestial_bodies [wikipedia.org] A molten core is necessary, but insufficient condition for the generation of a magnetic field. The core must also be convecting, which implies its losing heat to the mantle above it. If the core is only cooling conductively, then the core fluid will just rotate along with the planet and t
  • I'm studying Planetology for fun at the Open University [open.ac.uk] and as a good student I feel obliged to ask: Where's the Moon's magnetic field? Molten planetary cores and planetary magnetic fields are related. When you have one, you have the other. Fire and smoke. If the Moon's core is molten, then why its magnetic field is almost inexistent?
  • The moon crashed into the Earth?! What? Oh? It didn't? I guess it can't be "geologically" active then. "Lunalogicaly" then?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geology [wikipedia.org] -> "the study of the Earth's structure"

    Couldn't pass it up.

    The first sentence from your source...

    Geology (from Greek - (ge-, "the earth") and (logos, "word", "reason"))[1] is the science and study of the solid matter of a celestial body , its composition, structure, physical properties, history and the processes that shape it.

  • that the moon has a magnetic field - the temperature at the surface would not really be affected.

    I was trying to reply to someone above about this but 'reply' seems to be broken

  • It keeps moving around the Earth. That makes it quite active around all geology.
  • The moon actually revolves around the sun, in lockstep with the earth. Compared to the diameter of its solar orbit, it just wobbles a little bit. If it was really revolving around the earth, then it would at some point during the month move retrogradedly - it doesn't do that - it is indeed always moving in one direction only and at a near constant speed of about 1000km/s.
  • A planetary magnetic field requires one thing, and one thing only: moving electro-static charges. The moon could have a molten core and still produce no detectable magnetic field simply because the spin of the moon on it's axis is so low. For instance, Venus lacks a magnetic field because its spin is extremely slow. One day on Venus is equal to 243 Earth days. Venus has a molten core comparable to the Earth, yet exhibits no significant magnetic field. Want to create a tiny magnetic field yourself? Take yo
  • A magnetic field would tell about movement in a molten core - that is, convection and rotation of the mass. The moon rotates much slower than Earth, and the gravity driving convection is much lower too. So maybe there's a molten core that just doesn't act like Earth's molten core?
  • What the hell happened with the tree structure in here? Replies used to be placed logically under relevant articles some time back and I liked it that way =(.

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