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Solar radiation could be more important than previously thought: Study


Scientists have found that solar radiation could be a more important source of tiny lunar iron nanoparticles than previously thought. Doctoral candidate Christian J Tai Udovicic said that the study shows that solar radiation could have a much larger influence in active change on the moon than previously thought. These radiations would darken its surface and create small quantities of water that will be usable at future missions, he added.

Moon lacks the protective magnetic field and atmosphere that protects us here on earth. Asteroid impacts and solar radiations affect the moon in unique ways. They break down lunar rocks and soil, forming iron nanoparticles. Among these particles, some will be smaller, and some of them, larger. These can be detected from instruments on satellites orbiting the moon.

A team led by Northern Arizona University scientists used data from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency spacecraft to understand how quickly iron nanoparticles form on the moon over time. Udovicic said, "We have thought for a long time that the solar wind has a small effect on lunar surface evolution, when in fact it may be the most important process producing iron nanoparticles". He added that since iron absorbs a lot of light, very small amounts of these particles can be detected from very far away, making them a great indicator of change on the moon. Surprisingly the smaller iron nanoparticles seemed to form at a similar rate as radiation damage in samples returned from the Apollo missions to the moon. This was noted as a hint that the sun has a strong influence in their formation.

As NASA prepares to land the first woman and the next man on the moon's surface by 2024 as part of the Artemis mission, understanding the solar radiation environment and possible resources on the moon is critical.

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TAGS:Solar system Solar radiation Moon 
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