Electrons in the Earth’s magnetosphere could be forming water on the moon, according to a new observation using data from the Chandrayaan-1 mission.
The team was led by researchers from the University of Hawai’i (UH) at Manova in the US. Discovered that these electrons in the earth’s plasma sheet are contributing to the weathering process—breaking down or dissolving rocks and minerals—on the moon’s surface. Published in the journal Nature Astronomy, it was found that Earth’s electrons may have aided the formation of water on the Moon (Reuters).
Chandrayaan played a central role in the discovery of water molecules on the Moon. Chandrayaan-1 was launched by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in October 2008, and operated until August 2009. The mission built an orbiter and an impactor.
Scientists used data from the Chandrayaan-1 mission to make clear the origin of water ice before it was discovered in the permanently shaded regions on the Moon. High energy electrons in our planet’s plasma sheet contribute to the weathering process on the lunar surface and may have even aided the formation of water there. The plasma sheet is a district of trapped charged particles within the magnetosphere, part of the space around Earth forbidden by its magnetic field. The plasma sheet is an area of trapped charged particles within the magnetosphere, a part of the space around Earth prohibited by its magnetic field. The solar wind, which is collected from high-energy particles such as protons, bombards the lunar surface and is considered to be one of the primary ways in which water is formed on the Moon.
The team of experts investigated the change in surface weather as the Moon passes through Earth’s magnetotail, an area that completely shields the lunar body from solar wind but not the sun’s light photons. “When the Moon is the outer surface of the magnetotail, the lunar surface is bombarded with the solar wind. Inside the magnetotail, there are about no solar wind protons, and water formation was expected to drop to nearly zero,” said Shuai Li, an assistant researcher at the UH Manoa School of Ocean.
They, specifically, assessed the changes in water formation as the Moon traversed through Earth’s magnetotail, which takes in the plasma sheet. “To my surprise, the remote sensing observations showed that the water formation in Earth’s magnetotail is almost identical to the time when the Moon was outside of the Earth’s magnetotail,” said Li.
“This indicates that, in the magnetotail, there may be an additional formation process or a new source of water not directly associated with the implantation of solar wind protons. In particular, radiation by high energy electrons exhibits the same effects as the solar wind protons,” he explained. This judgment and the team’s previous study of rusty lunar poles indicate that the Earth is strongly tied with its Moon in several unrecognized aspects, the researchers added.