Scientists blame Earth’s oxygen for the rust found on the Moon

A National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) study has blamed the Earth’s oxygen for the presence of rust on the Moon, which has been there for billions of years.

Scientists have found the presence of haematite, an iron oxide mineral, at high latitudes on the moon. In these areas, the surface area as well the core is almost entirely scarce of oxygen.

As it is well known that iron’s reaction to oxygen, which is both highly reactive metals, results in the formation of reddish rust, which is often found on Earth. Another factor is the presence of hydrogen in solar wind blasts the lunar surface. This acts as a counter-reaction to oxidation.

The lead author of the study, Shuai Li has explained that the hypothesis claims that “lunar haematite is formed through oxidation of lunar surface iron by the oxygen from the Earth’s upper atmosphere.” Li is an assistant researcher at the Hawai’i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) in the UH Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST).

The researchers have also studied the locations where they found the presence of haematite. They believe it to be related to the water content at high latitude. This oxygen “has been continuously blown to the lunar surface by the solar wind when the moon is in Earth’s magnetotail during the past several billion years,” Li explained it further.

The study was published in the journal Science Advances. It also added to our knowledge that haematite is not completely unavailable at the far side of the moon, the areas where it might be difficult for Earth’s oxygen to reach.