Researchers have discovered that the moon is slowly rusting, and in fact the Earth is partly responsible for what is happening. A new research, which studies data by Chandrayaan-1 of the Indian Space Research Organization, reveals that its poles have a very different composition from the rest.
By studying the light reflected from the poles, Shuai Li, of the University of Hawaii, found the spectral signature of hematite. Hematite is a form of iron oxide, commonly known as rust. However, in order for iron to become rust, there must be oxygen, something that the moon is not known to have.
«It is very enigmaticLi said in a statement. «"The moon is a terrible environment for hematite to form."
"It simply came to our notice then. It should not exist based on the conditions that exist on the moonSaid Abigail Fraeman, one of his scientists JPL. "But since we discovered water on the moon, people have speculated that there could have been a greater variety of minerals than we think if water had reacted with rocks.. "
The presence of rust can be explained in three ways. Although the moon has no atmosphere, it has traces of oxygen due to the Earth's magnetic field. Oxygen can travel through the Earth's magnetic field. This would explain why there is more hematite on the side of the moon facing the Earth.
It is also possible that more oxygen was transported to the moon when it was closer to Earth, as the two bodies have been separated from each other for billions of years.
Another cause is the amount of hydrogen present on the moon. Hydrogen bombs both the moon and the Earth, crossing space through solar winds from the Helium. It is also a solvent, meaning it adds electrons to the materials it comes in contact with, as opposed to an oxidant that removes electrons.
The Earth's magnetic field protects it from this, but the moon does not protection.
However, the Earth's magnetic field, as well as transport oxygen to the moon, it also blocks almost all the activity of the solar wind whenever it is full. This means that there is a chance that rust will form during the lunar cycle.
The third factor is the water ice on the moon, which lies beneath lunar craters on the edge of the moon. Li said dust particles that hit it regularly could release these water molecules by mixing with iron, and then heated to increase the rate of oxidation.
This would explain why the hematite was located far away from the moon's craters, however, more research is needed to fully explain how water interacts with rock. Such research could explain why hematite was found in other bodies, such as asteroids.
«It could be that small droplets of water and the effect of dust particles, allow the iron of these bodies to rust", Said Fraeman.