The Moon is not a planetary body that is expected to experience rusting. Rust, which is a well-known oxide of iron, needs both water and oxygen to happen naturally. So, it was surprising to find out that a celestial body that is usually dry and completely devoid of oxygen, is undergoing rusting. Due to this happenings, scientists have started trying to find out the cause of this rust. A new research that was published in Science Advances got some information from Chandrayaan-1 orbiter of Indian Space Research Organization, and it was discovered that the rock at the poles of the Moon was composed of different materials, compared with other parts of the moon.
After taking a closer look, Shuai Li, the person in charge of the research, discovered the presence of hematite in those places. Hematite is a common oxide of iron, which causes rust. He quickly contacted some scientists, along with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA, to confirm his findings. According to what Abigail Fraeman said, when he first saw it, he couldn’t believe it. This is because it is not supposed to happen based on the conditions that are present on the Moon. But since they found water on the Moon, others have started speculating that there may be more minerals on the celestial body that they didn’t know about, if that transparent liquid had reacted with some rocks there.
So, there have been questions concerning why this phenomenon is existing on the Moon. Although, there are plenty of factors that may have led to its occurrence, the planet Earth is also to blame for this event. To start with, there is existence of water on the Moon in little quantities. Ice is present in lunar craters, but that water is only present on a different part of the Moon, which is far from where the rust happened. The current theory that the scientists are making use of is that dust particles that usually settle on the moon are helping to release the water molecules. And in the process, they mix those liquid molecules with the iron that is on the surface of the Moon.
Then the second part of this rust is oxygen, which is where the Earth comes into the picture. Since the Moon exists at a close distance to the Earth, it contains little amounts of oxygen, which moved from the upper atmosphere of the Earth, to the Moon. Shuai Li also found out that the part of the moon that faces the Earth contains more rust than the parts that don’t face the Earth. In addition to that theory, he believes that this process has been taking place on the Moon for so many years without their knowledge. Presently, they are working on a way to reduce further occurrences to prevent the Moon from being destroyed completely.
This would mean that some measures need to be taken to avoid continuous spread of dust particles on the Moon, and any other thing or factor that may enhance this process.