A meteorite created dust clouds on the moon

A meteorite created dust clouds on the moon

Physicists were able to determine the mechanism explaining the appearance of two dusty plasma clouds resulting from the fall of a meteorite on the lunar surface. The collision of a meteorite with the lunar surface significantly changes the properties of the surrounding dusty plasma system. More specifically, a large volume of regolith (dust particles with a size of 10-100 microns) is thrown into the relatively “clean” exosphere.

In 2015, astronomers recorded a similar phenomenon, noticing an optical flash. It arose after the fall of the meteorite to the moon. Conclusions suggest that we are talking about a large and fast moving object, after the impact of which two clouds of unknown composition rose.

Later it was possible to determine that the collision of a meteorite with the lunar surface leads to the appearance of a shock wave emitting fragments of regolith and a drop of molten material into the surrounding free space. Fragments and hardened melted droplets rise above the surface, contact with electrons in the solar wind and radiation, and then become electrically charged. In this process, two dusty plasma clouds are formed: one is represented by regolith fragments, and the second by solidified droplets of molten material. They differ in characteristics, so the review is viewed separately.

The researchers identified the main characteristics of the clouds: expansion rate, size, density and electrical charge of the particles. Calculations and observational data coincided. It turned out that the cloud created by hardened drops expands much faster than the second.

It is important to understand that moon dust remains a serious threat to space missions. It affects the health of astronauts, and also interferes with the operation of the instruments. In addition, it sticks to the spacesuits and gets inside the premises. The study of dust moon clouds is important to ensure the safety of future flights to the moon.

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