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Earth's moon bombarded by surprising number of meteoroids, scientists say

By
Amy R. Connolly
One of the first steps taken on the Moon, this is an image of Buzz Aldrin's bootprint from the Apollo 11 mission. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon on July 20, 1969. Scientists think the footprint on the moons' surface will be gone sooner than expected due to meteoroids hitting the moon. Image courtesy NASA
One of the first steps taken on the Moon, this is an image of Buzz Aldrin's bootprint from the Apollo 11 mission. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon on July 20, 1969. Scientists think the footprint on the moons' surface will be gone sooner than expected due to meteoroids hitting the moon. Image courtesy NASA

WASHINGTON, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- The Earth's moon, pummeled by scores of meteoroids every day, will have a new surface after some 81,000 years, much sooner than earlier predictions, NASA said.

New observations from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft found "small surface changes that are transforming the surface much faster than previously thought," scientist Emerson Spearer, of Arizona State University, said. The resurfacing also means landmarks will be destroyed.

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"The newly determined churning rate means that the Apollo astronaut tracks will be gone in tens of thousands of years rather than millions," scientist Mark Robinson, of Arizona State University, said.

Arizona State University and Cornell University researchers said the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, launched in June 2009, took high-resolution images of the surface that allows them to compare surface areas. It was originally thought to take millions of years for the moon's surface to turn over.

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