New research shows that our Moon is threatening to be wrapped in permanent dust clouds, like the icy satellites of Jupiter and Saturn. Physicist Mihai Horani of the University of Colorado Boulder and his colleagues presented their long-term research this week on how dust clouds on the Moon arise from the impacts of fast moving particles caught by comets flying past.
Clouds become denser during the passage of annual meteor showers, such as the Geminids, the authors noted. For research, scientists used the now defunct satellite NASA LADEE. To detect dust particles, measurements were taken when circling the moon at altitudes from 13 to 62 miles above its surface. In the period from October 2013 to April 2014, as part of the experiment, 80 days were selected for the study, during which more than 140 thousand tons of lunar dust were found. The researchers also confirmed that lunar clouds have an asymmetrical shape, contrasting with regular spherically symmetric clouds found around Jupiter’s icy moons. Scientists suspect that the powerful gravitational fields of Jupiter affect the orbits of satellites bombarded by interplanetary dust particles. Also, scientists say that particles of cometary origin prevail among moon dust, in contrast to dust particles brought in by slow asteroids moving in circular orbits towards the Sun. And in a short time, all planetary objects in a vacuumless space can sink into rarefied clouds of dust.