A Moon base is many geeks dream, and it is believed to be a crucial first step towards the colonisation of the solar system. Everywhere outside our planet is an inhospitable environment, however a Moon base would still be close enough restock with food or fuel fairly quickly.
A new piece of research in Nature might force us to scale down our dream of Lunar cities. Our natural satellite is a lot more active than the magnificent desolation described by Buzz Aldrin. It is constantly being pounded by meteorites.
In the past 7 years, there have been 222 impacts – one third more than researchers expected. The impacts formed craters from 2 to 43 meters in diameter, and there are many more larger craters than expected.
The new holes were spotted by comparing 14,092 images from the Apollo mission with the latest images from NASA’s Lunar Recoinnasance Orbiter. This discovery suggests that the Lunar surface might be younger than previously thought; astronomers use crater chronology to estimate the age of planetary surfaces, so the age value they have for the different Moon regions will have to be reestablished.
This is clearly bad news for glass domes and skyscrapers overlooking the Sea of Tranquillity, and you’ll have to wait a little longer before buying that luxury villa on he shore of Oceanus Procellarum. The chance of a direct impact is terribly low, but lifted debris could be very dangerous for the astronauts there. The team has spotted more than 47,000 splotches formed by the material displaced by the meteor impacts.
Speyerer et al. Quantifying crater production and regolith overturn on the Moon with temporal imaging Nature 538 215-218 2016