The Moon changes due to the action of the Sun: it decomposes its rocks and fills it with iron

Small iron nanoparticles, different from those found naturally on Earth, can be found practically all over the moon. Until now there was no explanation for this phenomenon, but a new study by scientists at the University of Northern Arizona, in the United States, shows that the Sun would generate these effects on the Moon.




According to a press release , both asteroid impacts and solar radiation directly affect the Moon, because our natural satellite lacks the protective magnetic field and atmosphere that protect the Earth. Asteroids and solar radiation would have a strong influence on the lunar surface , much greater than that considered until today.


Radiation from the Sun breaks down lunar rocks and soil, forming iron nanoparticles , which are detectable from instruments located on satellites orbiting the Moon. Since iron absorbs a lot of light, very small amounts of these particles can be identified from very far away, making them a great indicator of changes on the Moon.



A DETERMINING INFLUENCE

The research, recently published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, concludes that the solar wind has a much larger effect on the lunar surface than previously thought. How did astronomers discover that the Sun has such a strong influence on the surface of the Moon?



By comparing samples from NASA's Apollo missions, obtained in the 1960s and 1970s, with current data from satellites, scientists found that the smallest iron nanoparticles appeared to form at a rate similar to radiation damage. on the surface of the Moon. For specialists, this would be a clear indication: the Sun has a strong influence on the formation of these nanoparticles .



LUNAR DARKENING

The Moon is known to have no protective atmosphere and slowly darken over time due to exposure to space and solar radiation. This darkening process is called by scientists as space weathering : the evidence indicates that this process generates small iron particles, which vary in size from a few nanometers to micrometers.


According to the conclusions of the scientific work, the new information will allow us to understand how the surface of the Moon "weathers" and darkens over time, but it will also provide a starting point for new studies that seek to determine how space weathering could work and impact other parts of the Solar System.


Related Topic: Earth creates water on the lunar surface.


FOR FUTURE MISSIONS TO THE MOON

In the same sense, the data from the new research would allow us to determine that this phenomenon is more intense and leaves deeper traces on the Moon than indicated in previous studies. Considering that NASA plans to return to the Moon with a manned mission in 2024, as part of the Artemis project, having more data on how the lunar surface changes over time is valuable information.


Going deeper, US researchers believe that solar radiation could have such a large impact on active change on the Moon that it would even exceed the darkening of its surface or the formation of iron concentrations: it could also create small amounts of water , which They would be an interesting alternative to take advantage of in future missions that target the Moon.

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