Research

Ancient moon had an atmosphere

The results of a new study by astronomers saythat about 3-4 billion years ago, our Moon had an atmosphere. It was formed when, under the influence of volcanic activity, our satellite hardened, and the gas generated from this activity accumulated so quickly that it eventually surrounded the moon.

The surface of our satellite is covered with shockcraters filled with volcanic basalt. These basaltic plains, called astronomers by the seas, formed from magma, which erupted from the depths of the satellite to the surface, creating real lava flows. The astronauts who participated in the Apollo space program brought samples of these lunar basalt sediments to Earth, and thanks to their analysis, we now know that the lava flows contained carbon monoxide and other gases, sulfur, and even constituent structural elements of water.

Now our moon has no atmosphere, since it does nothas a sufficiently powerful magnetic field and the necessary mass in order to keep it. Unlike the Earth, which possesses both the necessary mass and the strength of the magnetic field capable of holding the atmosphere, any resulting atmosphere around the moon will be quickly blown away by solar winds. However, a new study indicates that the Moon could indeed have had an atmosphere before this happened.

A team of scientists studied the samples and found outhow much gas should have appeared and accumulated in order to be able to form such a transitional atmosphere around the moon. It turned out that the peak of volcanic activity on the satellite came about 3.5 billion years ago, when the atmosphere of the satellite had the densest form. After its formation, it existed for about 70 million years, after which it was discarded and lost in space. During the period when the moon possessed the atmosphere, the satellite was almost three times closer to the Earth than it is now, and looked much larger in the night sky of our planet.

"The results of this work force significantlychange our view of the moon as an airless, lifeless piece of cosmic stone, since our satellite once was surrounded by an atmosphere that is more dense than what Mars has, for example, ”said David Kring, senior researcher at the Space Research Association of Universities, Phys.org.

New findings are important forfuture astronauts planning to participate in lunar missions and subsequent space exploration. Scientists suggest that the composite volatile components of the ancient atmosphere of the moon could be preserved closer to the poles of the satellite, as well as in cold, constantly shaded areas. If this is so, then on the moon right now there may be a source of ice that future astronauts and colonists can use to produce drinking water, growing food and other needs. Ice deposits in combination with the chemical elements they contain can also be used to produce fuel and air both for ground-based lunar operations and outside the satellite, which is planned to be turned into a platform for subsequent space missions and flights into deep space. In addition, the presence of any useful item on the Moon will mean that it will not have to be carried there from Earth - a huge advantage, especially considering how expensive it is to deliver payloads to space.