Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Scientists Find Rust on the Moon ‘Puzzling’

Science
Scientists Find Rust on the Moon ‘Puzzling’
A full moon above Middletown Works, an AK Steel facility in Southwest Ohio, on April 7, 2020. Lucian / Flickr

Scientists have discovered rust on the moon, something they did not believe was possible.


Hematite, a type of rust, requires both water and oxygen to form. But the moon lacks both oxygen and liquid water. Which is why scientists were so surprised when they discovered hematite in lunar water samples they were studying from India's 2008 Space Research Organization's Chandrayaan-1 mission.

"It's very puzzling," research leader Shuai Li from the University of Hawaii said in a statement reported by Newsweek. "The Moon is a terrible environment for hematite to form in."

So Li sent the samples to Abigail Fraeman and Vivian Sun from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for confirmation.

"At first, I totally didn't believe it," Fraeman told Newsweek. "It shouldn't exist based on the conditions present on the Moon. 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."

The scientists detailed their surprising find in Science Advances Wednesday. They think the rust can be explained by three things, as the Independent reported:

  1. Magnetism: Oxygen can travel from the Earth to the moon via the Earth's magnetic field. This explains why there is more rust on the side of the moon facing the Earth.
  2. Hydrogen Shield: Solar winds bombard the moon with hydrogen, which interferes with the oxidation process that forms rust. But the Earth's magnetic field also blocks the moon from solar winds when the moon is full, giving rust enough time to form.
  3. Water Ice: There is water ice present on the moon, as Li discovered in 2018. Li thinks that the water molecules in the ice could be freed by dust particles that strike the moon's surface, then mix with iron to form rust. The oxidation process would be sped as the particles became heated.

Li's two discoveries — of water ice and rust — were both located near the moon's poles.

"This discovery will reshape our knowledge about the Moon's polar regions," Li said in a University of Hawaii press release. "Earth may have played an important role on the evolution of the Moon's surface."

Ningaloo Reef near Exmouth on April 2, 2012 in Western Australia. James D. Morgan / Getty Images News

By Dana M Bergstrom, Euan Ritchie, Lesley Hughes and Michael Depledge

In 1992, 1,700 scientists warned that human beings and the natural world were "on a collision course." Seventeen years later, scientists described planetary boundaries within which humans and other life could have a "safe space to operate." These are environmental thresholds, such as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and changes in land use.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A 3-hour special film by EarthxTV calls for protection of the Amazon and its indigenous populations. EarthxTV.org

To save the planet, we must save the Amazon rainforest. To save the rainforest, we must save its indigenous peoples. And to do that, we must demarcate their land.

Read More Show Less

Trending

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivers a video speech at the high-level meeting of the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council UNHRC in Geneva, Switzerland on Feb. 22, 2021. Xinhua / Zhang Cheng via Getty Images

By Anke Rasper

"Today's interim report from the UNFCCC is a red alert for our planet," said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The report, released Friday, looks at the national climate efforts of 75 states that have already submitted their updated "nationally determined contributions," or NDCs. The countries included in the report are responsible for about 30% of the world's global greenhouse gas emissions.

Read More Show Less
New Delhi's smog is particularly thick, increasing the risk of vehicle accidents. SAJJAD HUSSAIN / AFP via Getty Images

India's New Delhi has been called the "world air pollution capital" for its high concentrations of particulate matter that make it harder for its residents to breathe and see. But one thing has puzzled scientists, according to The Guardian. Why does New Delhi see more blinding smogs than other polluted Asian cities, such as Beijing?

Read More Show Less
A bridge over the Delaware river connects New Hope, Pennsylvania with Lambertville, New Jersey. Richard T. Nowitz / Getty Images

In a historic move, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) voted Thursday to ban hydraulic fracking in the region. The ban was supported by all four basin states — New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York — putting a permanent end to hydraulic fracking for natural gas along the 13,539-square-mile basin, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Read More Show Less