- Scientists used NASA’s ARTEMIS mission and suggest that the solar wind and the Moon’s crustal magnetic fields work together to give the Moon a distinctive pattern of darker and lighter swirls.
Every object, planet or person travelling through space has to contend with the Sun’s damaging radiation.
- The Sun releases a continuous outflow of particles and radiation called the solar wind.
- Because the solar wind is magnetised, Earth’s natural magnetic field deflects the solar wind particles so that only a small fraction of them reach the planet’s atmosphere.
- But the Moon has no global magnetic field; magnetised rocks near the lunar surface do create small, localised spots of magnetic field.
- The magnetic fields in some regions are locally acting as this magnetic sunscreen. Under these miniature magnetic umbrellas, the material that makes up the Moon’s surface, called regolith, is shielded from the Sun’s particles.
- As those particles flow toward the Moon, they are deflected to the areas just around the magnetic bubbles, where chemical reactions with the regolith darken the surface. This creates the distinctive swirls of darker and lighter material.
About ARTEMIS mission:
- ARTEMIS stands for “Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction with the Sun”.
- ARTEMIS is made up of two probes P1 and P2. They were originally members of the successful mission THEMIS in Earth orbit studying Earth’s aurora, but were redirected to the moon in an effort to save the two probes from losing power in Earth’s shade.
- Through this new mission scientists look to learn more about the Earth-moon Lagrange points, the solar wind, the Moon’s plasma wake and how the Earth’s magnetotail and the moon’s own weak magnetism interact with the solar wind.