Scientists are studying the cause of rust on the moon’s surface. To their great bewilderment, there was no air or water on the moon, both of which were necessary for the formation of hetero-iron ore, a form of rust. The new study looked at data collected by the Chandrayaan-1 orbiter of the Indian Space Research Organization.
When the orbiter surveyed the lunar surface in 2008, it discovered water ice on the lunar surface and mapped various minerals. The team looked at data collected by the Orbiter Lunar Mineralogy Surveyor, built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The researchers say water interacts with rocks to produce a variety of minerals, and orbiter instruments detect the spectrum of light reflected on the surface and find that the composition of the moon’s poles is very different from other places.
The moon’s surface is littered with iron-rich rocks, and researchers were surprised to find that they fit well with the spectral characteristics of hetero-iron ore. The reason for the surprise is that there should be no oxygen or liquid water on the moon that causes it to rust. Both the moon and the earth are constantly affected by the solar wind, a stream of charged particles from the sun that bombards both with hydrogen.
Researchers plan to continue studying why there is rust on the moon, while researchers at the University of Hawaii have released a separate study outlining what they believe is Earth’s oxygen that has caused billions of years of rust to accumulate on the moon. Researchers at the university speculate that the moon’s hetero-iron ore is oxidized by the constant oxidation of oxygen in the Earth’s upper atmosphere as the sun blows to the moon’s surface.
They believe that when the moon is in the Earth’s magnetic tail for billions of years, the oxygen leaving the earth will hit the moon’s surface, while the location of hetero-iron ore is closely related to the water content at high latitudes. The discovery is reshaping our understanding of the moon’s polar regions and how the Earth may have played an important role in the evolution of the moon’s surface.