Does the Moon keep changing its shape? Apparently so. The culprit is someone unsuspected. But an investigation by planetary scientists has found out. Solar radiation impacts the lunar surface in a relevant way. How is the Sun changing the Moon?
Solar radiation on the Moon
“This study shows it clearly. Solar radiation may have a much greater influence than thought. It doesn’t just darken the lunar surface. It could also create small amounts of water usable in future missions.” This is what Christian J. Tai Udovicic said. He is a doctoral student at Northern Arizona University. He is also a leader of the research.
The lunar surface is full of tiny iron nanoparticles. They are different from those found naturally on Earth. What is their origin? The Sun could be behind the large presence of such nanoparticles.
“We’ve thought that for a long time. That the solar wind has a small effect on the evolution of the lunar surface. But it can produce iron nanoparticles.” said Tai Udovicic to the Phys.org portal.
The Moon lacks a protective magnetic field. Solar radiation affects the satellite differently. It breaks up the lunar soil and rocks. That would give rise to iron nanoparticles of varying sizes. They are detectable with the help of instruments on satellites orbiting the Moon.
The smaller iron nanoparticles form at a rate similar to the damage caused by solar radiation. This would indicate that the Sun has a strong influence on their formation.
“How is the Sun modifying the Moon? I saw the data from the Apollo sample and the data from our satellites. I was surprised,” shared Tai Udovicic. He plans to expand his study and study the Moon comprehensively. He also wants to take a closer look at the mysterious lunar swirls. The research was published in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters.