• The Moon has visible ‘sunburns’, or distinctive patterns of swirls on its surface.
• NASA has now analysed data to show that these are a result of interactions between the Sun’s damaging radiation with pockets of lunar magnetic field.
• Every object, planet or person travelling through space has to contend with the Sun’s damaging radiation.
• Research using data from NASA’s ARTEMIS mission suggests how the solar wind and the Moon’s crustal magnetic fields work together to give the Moon a distinctive pattern of darker and lighter swirls.
• The Sun releases a continuous outflow of particles and radiation called the solar wind. Because the solar wind is magnetized.
• Earth’s natural magnetic field deflects the solar wind particles so that only a small fraction of them reach the planet’s atmosphere.
• But the Moon has no global magnetic field; magnetised rocks near the lunar surface do create small, localised spots of magnetic field.
• The magnetic fields in some regions are locally acting as this magnetic sunscreen.
• Under these miniature magnetic umbrellas, the material that makes up the Moon’s surface, called regolith, is shielded from the Sun’s particles.
• As those particles flow toward the Moon, they are deflected to the areas just around the magnetic bubbles, where chemical reactions with the regolith darken the surface.
• This creates the distinctive swirls of darker and lighter material.
Mains Paper 3: Science and Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology
Prelims level: ARTEMIS Mission
Mains level: Space missions and their objectives