back to article MOON SHRINKING FAST - shock NASA discovery

Imagery from a NASA spacecraft has revealed that the Moon has shrunk significantly in recent times: indeed, instruments placed by the Apollo astronauts are thought to have recorded the rumbling, crunching sounds of lunar shrinkage carrying on in just the last few decades. NASA LRO image showing lobate scarp cutting across …


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  1. Joefish

    Not to mention

    It would make it harder to see cursed pirates for what they really arrrrre.

  2. Anonymous Coward


    This is what happens when the Mooninites overdo the whole quad lazer thing. I knew it would bite them in their 2 dimensional (but superior) asses somehow.

    Oh, you not heard of ATHF? Never mind then.

    1. Emilio Desalvo

      Nothing to be alarmed of...

      Probably just Dahak rearranging his camouflage...

  3. Fred Mbogo

    Black Holes?

    Micro Black Holes that will dissipate via Hawking radiation in nanoseconds. Micro Black Holes with the gravitic pull of less than an electron.

    Did anybody take seriously that bovine byproduct?

    If anyone believes that black holes keep getting bigger and bigger through accretion of nearby matter, they clearly have not read the mechanism that makes them work.

    Accreting matter actually shrinks black holes.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      What a load of a*se

      "Accreting matter actually shrinks black holes" - total fail I'm afraid.

      Black holes DO grow by swallowing matter.

      Try this:

      1. Graeme Coates

        And nope.

        The black hole itself is by definition a point object (at least in our physics - this may not actually apply inside a black hole, but there's no better explanation at present...).

        The event horizon of a black hole (ie the Schwarzchild radius for a non-rotating black hole) *will* grow according to the mass of the object - but it's only a mathematical definition, there's nothing physical at that distance - for supermassive black holes (centre of galaxy type stuff) it would be possible for a human to cross the event horizon with no ill effects (no turning to spagetti, etc). You'd never get out again, and wouldn't be able to tell anyone about it though...

      2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        New Scientist == Wikipedia

        You fail.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          "New Scientist == Wikipedia".

          I used New Scientist as I suspect it is pitched at a level which the original poster might understand.

          I presume you get all your knowledge directly from PhysRev or MonRAS? I do love it when IT people spout it large about physics - there seems to be something inherent in them that makes them think they're experts on anything to do with physics, or military hardware.

          Anyway, the weekend is here so I'll get my coat - mine's the one with a PhD in Astrophysics in the coat pocket.

    2. Luther Blissett

      Black hole as point object

      Just a thought, but surely that - by definition - would preclude their existence in a string-theoretic universe?

    3. Captain Thyratron

      I'd give him partial credit, but he didn't show his work.

      He's s partially right, though probably through no fault of his own. Black holes do grow by accreting matter, and do shrink as a result of Hawking radiation; the rate at which the black hole loses mass to Hawking radiation is inversely proportional to that mass, so a black hole with the mass of a star is going to stick around for a while, whereas a black hole with the mass of, say, a pencil is going to disappear in a violent explosion (whose energy is probably something like the mass of the pencil multiplied by a famous number squared, since the energy of its gravitational field is negligible) and a black hole with the mass of a proton will disappear into a tiny shower of energetic particles quite faster than you can say "femtosecond".

  4. Lionel Baden


    I never thought the gravitational pull of a micro black hole would stabalize i presumed it would keep on pulling in matter till it then slowly dives into the depths of our atmosphere and then kills us all.

    Even if it had the same mass as our moon woulndt it be reppeled via magnetic waves etc differently ???

    maybe i should stfu

    1. Marky W

      Do not feed


      1. Lionel Baden


        see title

        was intentionally trolling then i read it again and thought wtf

        Today is not my day !!!

        good thing tommorow is saturday !

  5. Alpha Tony
    Black Helicopters

    I knew it!

    'has done so noticeably since the Apollo landers set down on it in the 1960s and 70s. '

    ..and I think you will find that the size of the average American has increased noticeably in the same period. Coincidence? I think not!

    It should be clear to all now that what I have been saying for years is true- The Apollo 11 mission was actually an elaborate front which the Americans used to set up a cheese-mining operation on the dark side of the moon and they have been secretly extracting and consuming all that lovely pure lunar cheese for years now without sharing any with us. Bastards.

    1. Blain Hamon

      They're onto us!

      It's not our fault that we've been taking all the cheese! You Brits had your chance, but nooo, Wallace wasn't thinking large enough, and only brought back a basketful or two, if I recall.

  6. John G Imrie

    It's not NASA

    It's subsidence caused by the Clangers deep mine blue string operations.

    1. LuMan


      Beat me to it!

      Here's a pint, anyway!

  7. BristolBachelor Gold badge


    So the estimates put it that the radius has shrunk by ~100M in the last billion years. So you think that a rate of 0.005% every billion years is FAST?

    Tell you what, why don't you lend me some money? A million quid should do. I'll pay you a HIGH interest rate of 0.005% every billion years.

    Now, where is the nearest bar........

  8. Tigra 07

    Must have been Americans

    Why did they bomb the moon in the first place?

    1. Ian Michael Gumby
      Black Helicopters

      Nope, it was the evil Martians.

      They heard that we were planning on using the moon as a launch pad to send people to Mars.

      So they figured if they got rid of the moon that they would stop our invasion.

      So they set up a small black hole that would slowly destroy the moon.

      Them Martians are a patient breed and figure that they'll give us a fighting chance by making the decay slow.

      Either that or they're really cruel bastids who wanted us to recognize our fate and watch us scramble and panic ...

    2. Stratman


      To force democracy on the ungrateful Clangers, of course.

    3. Abremms

      title? TITLE!

      when we don't understand something, we bomb it. thats how we roll.

      1. Lionel Baden
        Thumb Up


        Thank you my new signature :)

      2. Tigra 07

        There you are!

        "when we don't understand something, we bomb it. thats how we roll."

        I was wondering when an American would comment ;)

    4. deadlockvictim Silver badge

      why bomb the moon?

      It was a war that they were sure they could win. oh, the insanity of it all.

    5. Captain Thyratron

      The moon wasn't with us, so...

      We heard there were some terrorists hiding there, and the moon failed repeatedly to respond to our requests for the terrorists' extradition. Thus, the moon was sponsoring terrorism and we had no choice but to take military action against it.

  9. alain williams Silver badge

    The mice did not pay their bills ...

    to Slartibartfast & his mates, so they are gradually reclaiming what they built.

  10. loopy lou

    Winking out?

    Things only disappear smoothly into a black hole if they have no angular momentum. The moon is rotating about once a month so it would spin up into a very hot fiery disk well before it got down to pea size and we'd have a super-bright accretion disk thingy to look at in the sky and probably get fried by hard radiation.

    1. Bill Fresher
      Thumb Up

      Good point

      ... and apart from that, none of the top boffins in the world think that the hardon collider could produce black holes and who do you is right... them or some armchair physicists?

  11. fishman

    No surprise.

    It's no surprise that the moon is shrinking. Take a piece of cheese, and leave it out for a few days. It will end up noticably smaller. Since the moon is just a big piece of cheese, the same thing is happening to it.

  12. Hud Dunlap

    Its global warming

    It is caused by global warming you fools!

    1. Anonymous Coward


      It's the El Niño effect

      (It's about time that one got an airing again)

    2. Kevin Turnquist

      Re: Its global warming #

      Bah! Beat me to it!

  13. jake Silver badge

    Clearly ...

    Clearly, it's the acne creme God applied during creation 6,000 years ago starting to flake off, as any fule teenager knos ...

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Disclosure is coming...

    They are here, Obama to announce one day.....

  15. Bill Fresher
    Thumb Down

    Now it starts

    Many of us warned what would happen when NASA attempted to blow up the moon. Fortunately they failed in bursting it immediately, but now, instead, we all get to watch as it slowly shrivels up, leaking out all the water inside bit by bit, causing floods across the world as it enters our atmosphere.

    And what kind of nut job honestly believes that the hadron thing will make mini black holes?

    1. Bill Fresher

      Volume of Water

      I've done a small calculation to show how serious this is:

      Volume of Moon = 21.9 billion cubic km.

      Radius of Earth = 6400 km.

      Volume of sphere = (4/3) Pi r^3

      Assuming most of the Volume of the moon is water which will end up falling to Earth, the Volume of the Earth will increase by 21.9 billion cubic km which corresponds to an increase in radius of around 42 km.... or 138,000 feet.

      We're doomed.

  16. Anonymous Coward


    maybe the camera just moved further away from the moon?

  17. Anonymous Coward

    The moon has mice!

    It's been well established in nursery-science circles for some time that the moon is made of cheese and therefore one can conclude a mouse infestation is the probably cause of any shrinkage.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Check the physics man

      This is only true if a mouse is less dense than a piece of cheese, or the mice have some means of leaving the moon once they've had their fill.

      More research needed before making unfounded claims!

      1. Mephistro


        Actually, the mice would be able leave the Moon, so to speak, after death. It goes like this: Mice eat the cheese and use it to produce muscle, bone, brains and more mice. When the mice dies, decay turns their bodies partly into gas. As Moon's gravity is not big enough to keep an atmosphere, said gas goes straight into space.

        For those of you thinking that decay doesn't occur in vacuum, consider this: mice have to breathe somehow, and the only possible explanation is that the Moon is a giant PRESSURIZED cheese. Its inhabitants sometimes can´t cope with the stench -a mixture of really ancient cheese, mouse droppings and living and dead mice *- and open the airlocks to allow some of that smell to escape the Moon.

        Finally, if some stubborn denialist argues that there wouldn't be any oxygen in the Moon, as there are no plants there to perform photosynthesis, the explanation is that the mice outsourced their oxygen production to China.

        You're welcome! ^_^

  18. Notas Badoff

    More _useful_ as a black hole?

    While based on an inadequate understanding of the slingshot effect, wouldn't the moon be a sight more useful for interplanetary travel as a black hole? If the accelerations/decelerations possible do increase the closer to a body's center of mass you can come then voilà we will have made the moon into a roundabout to the solar system!

    All this discussion of what can we do with the moon (with being deficient in water, metals, beaches, etc.) is resolved. Make it near nothing and you've made it quite something!

    The only problem I can see is that with such a small area for action and with the boost towards private space efforts, we're going to have to have a central body to do traffic control. Otherwise we'll have the entertainment of hobby airshows and planes colliding, with the added cute sparkly effects as pieces fall into the black hole.

    1. Lionel Baden

      hmm dodgy

      What if somebody takes the wrong exit and heads towards earth at a couple of thousand MPS

  19. Torben Mogensen

    There is a Tide

    The idea of a black hole orbiting Earth as a moon reminded me of a short story by Larry Niven called "There is a Tide" which has a planet with this feature.

    As for why the Moon is shrinking, it is obviously caused by collapse of the Selenite tunnels after they made too much Cavorite. :-)

    1. Richard Scratcher

      There is a tide?

      That short story by Larry Niven was about a planet with a fragment of a neutron star orbiting it, not a black hole.

      One of his other short stories "The Hole Man" was about a quantum black hole that fell into Mars and swallowed up the planet.

  20. Mike Richards Silver badge

    'Geologically recent'

    On the Moon, 'recent' means anything after the formation of the Mare (the dark areas seen from Earth) which ended around 1 billion years ago.

    The Moon is still seismically active as there are regular moonquakes which come in a variety of flavours. There are deep quakes which can go down to about 700km which seem to be associated with lunar tides, then there are the very shallow weak thermal 'quakes which are kicked off when at lunar dawn when temperatures skyrocket and rocks expand. In between there are shallow 'quakes down to about 30km which are caused by crustal movements. These tend to be bigger - IIRC the biggest measured by Apollo sensors was Richter 5.something. So rocks are definitely moving - why, well that's an interesting question. But it is only creating a tiny fraction of the seismic activity found here on Earth.

    There's also some suggestion of intermittent volcanic activity or outgassing. Astronomers regularly report seeing glowing patches of light around certain craters which go by the name of Transient Lunar Phenomena:

    Finally there are similar scarps on Mercury known as rupes. The accepted explanation is that Maercury's surface cooled relatively quickly and became rigid before the underlying Mantle and Core solidified. As the Core and Mantle cooled and contracted, the crust buckled along the rupes.

    Nice image here:

    The scarp is the dark line running almost vertically through the middle of the image cutting through the large crater. It's 2km high.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Real question

    "Based on the size of the scarps, we estimate the distance between the moon's center and its surface shrank by about 300 feet"

    My question is, did the surface move, or did the center move. Think about it..

  22. Christoph

    Of course it was the probe

    That probe was crashed to splash up water from the pole, to prove that there was water there, right?

    So that water got splashed all over the place, right?

    So it's obvious what's happened - the moon shrank in the wash.

  23. PikeyDawg

    I LOL'd - out loud even

    "MOON SHRINKING FAST - shock NASA discovery

    LHC-spawned black hole gobbling it from within?*"

    That was the best RSS summary I have ever read - for real.

    I think it's worth mentioning that I too sometimes experience shrinkage. Imagine swimming in -153°C water, a little shrinkage is to be expected.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It must be UK carbon emissions

    Surely this is climate change-related.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Secret aim

    Perhaps if some of you doubters saw the leaked documents proving that the primary goal of scientists at the Large Hardon Collider is to to produce a Large Black Hole you'd stop poo-pooing those of us trying to stop them.

    1. Shinobi87

      @Anonymous Coward "Secret aim"


      1. The Indomitable Gall
        Black Helicopters

        Taking the piss...?

        You've clearly not seen the document then.

        The whole *reason* for the large black hole is to take the piss. Think about it -- with a massive black hole above our heads, we won't even be able to urinate downwards. Our hydrogen and oxygen will be slowly stolen, one toilet break at a time, until we have NONE LEFT!!!

        1. Captain Thyratron

          Hydrogen and oxygen?

          They're even stealing your nitrogen, what with all the urea.

  26. YARR

    Just our moon?

    Doesn't the core of all planetary bodies cool over time, resulting in their volume shrinking slightly? I would expect to see the same effect on any other rocky planetary body whose surface has remained unchanged for > billion years (except for a few impacts).

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  27. Moz

    Good Sci FI Plot

    Obviously this is caused by a future version of the Large Hadron Collider that was sited on the moon and created a runaway black hole that is eating its way through time and space. Obviously.

  28. TeeCee Gold badge

    Ok, which arsehat was it.......

    ......that put it in on "90 - Cotton" rather than "30 - Wool, delicates and satellites"?

  29. Lottie

    Epic fail reporting

    For deities sake!!

    Can you please stop ruining all the good news stories by applying SCIENCE!!

    I mean really, everyone knows that while there's no scientific proof, the LHC is responsible for all badness.

  30. Is it me?


    My 1975 dissertation on the Rheology of the Crater Tycho was in fact correct, and gravity does suck on the moon.

    (It was really a typing mistake in the flow equasions, but never let reality get in the way, science move forwards)

  31. Liam Johnson


    It's got to be the astronomers. Once they stop the moon lighting up the sky half the month, they will be burning down the electricity grids with huge cosmic ray burst over the next few years.

    Then finally we will have wonderful dark night skies like our ancestors!

  32. CASIOMS-8V

    Sorry !

    That's no moon . . . . . .

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Maybe their instruments are off

    Could it be that scientists are unable to make any long term measurements that *DON'T* somehow trend in some type of terribly worrisome direction?

    And yes, I'm referring to anything/everything global warming with that question.

    /Anonymous because these fuckers are watching and taking down names for their enemies list:

    1. F Seiler


      >>Could it be that scientists are unable to make any long term measurements that *DON'T* somehow trend in some type of terribly worrisome direction?

      Of course. Extrapolations need to either indicate up, down or stable. Each is terrible, regardless of what the subject is.

  34. Tom 13

    Where's the Kaboom? There was supposed to be a

    Moon shattering Kaboom.

  35. ScottishYorkshireMan

    Nothing to do with LHC or Moon Bombing

    Can't everyone see it? The problem is climate change, the moon is shrinking because of climate change on earth.

    After all, every other single damn problem that exists is because of climate change or the politicians next gravy train.

    Anyhow, it's POETS day. Jog On.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    How can...

    ... the moon have shrunk over billions of years when the universe is only 7000 years old ?

  37. Refugee from Windows

    11 years late?

    Guess I'll have to get the Eagle started then. It better not vanish in the next couple of weeks, a colleague in the office would be even more of a nervous wreck if he had not ciggies, coffee or food during daylight indefinitely.

  38. Schultz


    So we punctured the thing on the first bombing run. Quite impressive!

  39. Bob Sanders

    Great now there's a reason for a new Bruce Willis space movie

    Global Warming? ... No it's far worse because it means we have Galactic Warming!

    All those satellites, human "stuff" and space junk is causing space to warm ... we're doomed ... doomed!!

  40. David Pickering


    why are smaller craters considered newer? i thought the moon didnt have erosion etc.. i dont follow :(

    1. Captain Thyratron

      Then what are craters?

      It doesn't have the same /kind/ of erosion as Earth, and certainly nothing as rapid, but what are craters if not erosion in themselves? The moon is a very dusty place.

  41. DI_Wyman


    I actually misread your post as .....'the LHC is responsible for all baldness.'

    And as a shiny dome head......I agree.

  42. eternal


    Cheese technology is the way forward here, mine always shrinks in the fridge. Also applying a partial vacuum on cheese crumbs with the hoover causes a marked reduction in apparent cheese mess, sorry read mass.

    Of course it is possible that the rest of the universe is expanding, as many scientistas claim, fine; but maybe the moon isnt expanding, there-by causing a relativity problem.

    1. Rune Moberg


      @eternal: The cheese in your fridge shrinks, and at the same time your room mate's tummy expands and his/her breath (and various other emissions) smells like cheese?

      The real story here is that man-made CO2 is slightly lighter than natural CO2, thus it sometimes escapes our atmosphere and regularly sandblasts the moon into submission.

      We have to stop burning fossil fuels NOW while we still have a moon that is visible. Heck, most of the time it is already hidden!

      I'm certainly doing my part, next month I'll be back on the E85 wagon (actually it is a 2011 9-5 sedan, which is quite something as we are still in 2010) and also do my part to keep the population growth in check. You can all thank me later when, thanks to my efforts, the moon is still visible in the sky once a month or so.

  43. Anonymous Coward

    The reason is....

    Its simply a big cavern filling in. NASA had to hollow out the moon to build the soundstage where they shot the fake moon landings.....wait a second!!

    Extraterrestrial icon, because technically the moon is extraterrestrial. Requesting a tinfoil hat icon, please!!!

  44. J 3


    Did I miss it, or did no one mention that Gru from Despicable Me is actually behind all of this, with that shrinking ray of theirs? It's quite obvious, really.

  45. raving angry loony


    I'd like to nominate this headline and sub-title for the "News of the World Sensationalist Headline of the Week".

  46. Trevor_Pott Gold badge


    That article was bloody excellent and you deserve some form of hero biscuit. Carry on sir.

    1. Charley 1

      Give that man a pint.

      "Admittedly, romantic hand-in-hand evening strolls may become a trifle less satisfying for some, but on the other hand the werewolf menace will be appreciably reduced."

      Bugger me, Lewis! Were you having a liquid lunch with Lester when you wrote this? I'm still chuckling about it 1/2 an hour later.

  47. Anonymous Coward

    The whole lunar farce is a NASA ploy

    We all know that EVERY stinking apollo mission was faked and broadcast from some undisclosed soundstage. Who's to say NASA hasn't developed a time machine AND faked the whole existence of the moon?

    I know my government and I sure as hell wouldn’t put it past them.

  48. William Higinbotham

    Cheeze Wiz and Rats

    I knew that it had to be rodents that got on and off Apollo 13. Now they are eating the cheese beneath the surface of the moon.Litter of 12 pups every 25 days. second generation 144. Third 29736 and so forth. How long till they equal the mass of the moon?


    The ASCII Guy

  49. MNB

    just a thought

    over a billion (or so) years the moon has contracted by 0.005% (if I'm to beleive the previous posters)... could this not be simply explained by the moon cooling down? that is simple thermal shrinkage - no black holes, no clangers, no NASA conspiracy, just simple GCSE level physics

    just a thought.

  50. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    In all seriousness though...

    some scientists have been reflecting a laser off a mirror some of the Apollo astronauts left on the moon, and they determined the moon has been moving away from the earth at about 2.5 inches a year -- well, the distance between the ground-based laser and the reflect I suppose. I would assume they would have noticed the ground dropping out from under it.

    Worryingly, though, funding has been terminated for this as of 2009 -- MAYBE THE MOON DID ALL IT'S SHRINKING JUST SINCE LAST YEAR!! Nobody would be the wiser! 8-)

  51. chris 130

    Cheese does this, not news

    Exactly what Cheese does.

    No surprises here!

  52. Anonymous Coward

    @The Indomitable Gall

    > Our hydrogen and oxygen will be slowly stolen, one toilet break at a time, until we have NONE LEFT!!!

    It's already happening, although the black hole appears to be a little unstable:

    Grab a pitchfork and join me!

  53. gimbal

    Thus proving the Evolutionists wrong again!

    Yeah, um, just kidding on that. I mean, hey, they gave a wave to the Evolution-ignorant on Furturama, recently, so why not WOT it in now, after all? ><

    Nothing to see here, in case you didn't guess....

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