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article imageIs the Moon showing signs of rusting?

By Tim Sandle     Sep 21, 2020 in Science
Scientists are investigating whether the Moon is showing signs of rusting as a result of oxygen from Earth. This is due to the detection of the oxidized iron mineral hematite, located at areas of high latitudes on the Moon's surface.
This unusual discovery comes from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. What has been observed is the sign of iron reacting with oxygen and forming rouging. Yet how can this be happening if the Moon is devoid of oxygen? There are also features of Moon climatology that would protect the Moon from the types of reactions seen on Earth, such as hydrogen in solar winds ravaging the lunar surface, where oxidation would be prevented.
Yet the abundance of hematite showing signs of oxidation is very puzzling. Hematite is a common iron oxide with a formula of Fe2O3 and it is widespread in rocks and soils.
The research team are of the opinion that lunar hematite created by the oxidation of iron on the Moon's surface, with the reaction triggered by oxygen from the Earth's upper atmosphere. This oxygen will have been directed to the lunar surface through solar wind. This is due to the Moon acting as Earth's magnetotail across the course of several billion years.
Evidence for this arises from the locations where hematite is present on Moon strongly correlates with water content at high latitude, and such formations are concentrated towards the nearside, which always faces the Earth. The other side of the Moon has lower water content and less quantities of hematite.
In addition to the 'rusting' being a point of general interest, the implications of the discovery are that the Earth may actually have played a more important role on the evolution of the Moon's surface than was previously realized.
The research is published in the journal Science Advances, with the research paper titled "Widespread hematite at high latitudes of the Moon."
More about Moon, Rust, rusting, hematite
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