Jaws Drop at NASA: The Moon Is Rusty – Newser

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X

 

‘At first, I totally didn’t believe it’


(Newser)

Rust—on the moon? Scientists say they were stunned to find it lurking on the moon’s poles, Fox News reports. “At first, I totally didn’t believe it. It shouldn’t exist based on the conditions present on the moon,” says NASA scientist Abigail Fraeman, co-author of a study on the find. “But since we discovered water on the moon, people have been speculating that there could be a greater variety of minerals than we realize if that water had reacted with rocks.” But the moon is oxygen-free, and rust is only created when iron comes in contact with oxygen and water. So lead author Shuai Li worked with NASA scientists for months and came up with a theory, CNN reports.

The solar wind stretches Earth’s magnetic field so far that the moon can enter its tail for days at a time. That might allow oxygen to move from the Earth to the moon, mix with lunar water molecules, and form rust on its near side, the study says. But mysteries remain: Why are smaller amounts of iron also forming on the far side of the moon, where Earth’s oxygen shouldn’t reach? And how is the moon’s water interacting with rock? Side bonus: This could explain why there’s rust on some asteroids and other airless bodies, NASA reports. “This discovery will reshape our knowledge about the moon’s polar regions,” Li says in a press release. “Earth may have played an important role on the evolution of the moon’s surface.” (Meanwhile, NASA has patented a cheaper way to reach the moon.)
 

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