Till now scientists believed that the moon has no atmosphere thus, nothing can disturb the lunar dust except those meteors that occasionally collides with the lunar surface. However, a new team of British astronomers have discovered something that is unexpected and contradicts the old belief. According to researchers, the moon may experience ‘weather’ of its own. The base of the new theory is the discovery of stream of particles emitted from the solar winds coming from the Sun that interact with the moon in a totally unexpected way.
Astronomers say that earlier it was believed that the moon absorbs solar winds from Sun as it lacks atmosphere. However, the new research has found that the moon reflects 10 percent of the solar winds back into space which was previously unknown. Earth has global magnetic field and atmosphere due to which solar winds interact with the gases present on Earth’s atmosphere and colorful, mesmerizing aurora is created, but the reflection of solar winds on the moon was unexpected.
Charles Lue, a researcher at the Swedish Institute of Space Physics at the Umea University, who conducted the work as part of his PhD. came to conclusion after analysing data obtained from the India’s Chadrayaan-1 orbiter. According to Lue, the finding has great significance and can reveal secrets of how the lunar environment is affected during lunar dayside and nightside surfaces. He further added that the effects can even be seen in the form of visible light – like bright swirls imprinted on the surface of the moon. With the help of new find, we can estimate the amount of water present in the Moon, said Lue.
It is clear that lunar surface is affected by the solar winds, but its effect might be less than previously estimated. Also, it means that lunar surface experiences less weathering which also points towards the presence of lesser amount of water under the crust than previously predicted.
First published on: Dec 2, 2015 09:36 PM