Humanity’s fleet of robotic explorers peppered throughout the solar system continue to reveal new and exciting pieces of information regarding other members of the Sun’s stellar family.
New research from India’s Chandrayaan-1 lunar mission shows the Moon is rusting. The baffling discovery led scientists on an intriguing search for the answer to how this seemingly impossible formation was happening on the oxygen-less Moon away from the satellite’s polar water deposits.
On Earth, when water and oxygen interact with iron, rust forms. On Mars, the planet’s past abundance of water and concentration of atmospheric oxygen long lost to space by the solar wind combined with iron in its surface to give the planet its iconic red color.
But how can rust form far from water ice deposits on a barren oasis devoid of oxygen?
Scientists pouring over data obtained by the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO’s) Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft discovered telltale, if not surprising, signatures that clearly showed the presence of hematite, a common iron oxide (or rust), on the lunar surface.
Chandrayaan-1 — India’s first lunar mission which ceased operating on 22 October 2009 after a nearly three year mission — was a highly successful undertaking that discovered water ice ...