Scientists examining the fine dust covering the Moon have identified a handful of rocks on the Moon's surface that they believe may be covered in uniquely magnetized dust.
The team used artificial intelligence to review about a million images of the lunar surface, all taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. The artificial intelligence was able to obtain 130,000 images of rocks with attractive features, and the researchers reviewed half of them. Their research is published In the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.
On the Moon — a rocky satellite free of wind and erosion — dust isn't just an irritant powder. The crushed rock is still tiny, like the stuff that causes our Earthly sneezes, but the moon dust is sharp and charged with static electricity. By studying images of rocks on the moon, researchers hoped to find a superior rock that would reveal new properties.
“We identified a rock with distinct dark areas in just one image,” said Ottaviano Rosch, a researcher at Westfälisch Wilhelm University Münster and lead author of the study. launch. “This rock was very different from the others, in that it scatters less light towards the sun than other rocks. We think this is due to the specific structure of the dust, such as the density of the dust and the size of its grains.”
The team concluded that the rocks were ejected when the Reiner K crater formed. Aside from their optical properties — that is, how dusty the rocks look compared to other moon rocks — “these dust-covered rocks do not show any additional difference with respect to the other rocks,” the group wrote in the study. .
“Normally, lunar dust is very porous and reflects a lot of light in the direction of illumination,” Marcel Hess, a researcher at TU Dortmund and co-author of the study, said in the statement. “However, when the dust is compressed, the overall brightness usually increases. This is not the case with the observed dust-covered rocks.”
So what's going on with this dust? The team isn't quite sure, however Moon peak The mission may have answers. The solar-powered lander is scheduled to explore more than 1.2 miles of the Reiner Gamma region, where it will sample some of the magnetic features on the moon's surface. If the lander focuses on the optical behavior of the dust, it could explain why the dust is different from other lunar dust, which in turn could reveal details of the Moon's formation or impact history, the team wrote.
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