The Moon Is Rusting Even Without Liquid Water and Oxygen

By: | September 4th, 2020

Image courtesy Wikimedia commons

The Moon, Earth’s only natural satellite is the only place in the Solar System where humans have set foot. In comparison to any other celestial body, it is fairly well known to us. We are aware that there is no air or liquid water on the Moon.

However, researchers discovered oxidized iron mineral hematite (a form of rusted iron) at high latitudes on the Moon. This discovery has baffled the scientists since the formation of haematite requires the presence of both air and water.

The discovery was made by researchers from the ‘University of Hawaii’, on analyzing data captured by the Indian Chandrayaan-1 mission.

Planetary scientist Shuai Li of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, said, “It’s very puzzling,” “The Moon is a terrible environment for haematite to form in.”

Li added, “When I examined the M3 data at the Polar Regions, I found some spectral features and patterns are different from those we see at the lower latitudes or the Apollo samples,” 

“I was curious whether it is possible that there are water-rock reactions on the Moon. After months of investigation, I figured out I was seeing the signature of haematite.”

Probable reasons behind the presence of rust on the moon

  • Moon does not have any atmosphere, but it does have small traces of oxygen because of the Earth’s magnetic field. That is why there is a greater amount of hematite on the side of the moon facing the Earth.
  • Because the Moon is moving away from Earth for billions of years, oxygen might have transferred to the moon when it was closer to the Earth.
  • The amount of hydrogen present on the moon can also be the reason. 
  • Another factor can be the presence of water ice on the moon.
Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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