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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Lunar South Pole Craters Electric Charged?

William Farrell, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center lead researcher of a team studying the Moon, suggests that that the lunar polar craters, which are said to contain water ice, may be electrified by the solar wind flows over natural obstructions on the moon, it may charge polar lunar craters to hundreds of volts, [audio video] and [animation].

The moon's orientation to the sun keeps the bottoms of the craters in permanent shadow allowing temperatures there to plunge below minus 400 degrees F, cold enough to store volatile material for billions of years, according to NASA.

"However, our research suggests that, in addition to the wicked cold, explorers and robots at the bottoms of polar lunar craters may have to contend with a complex electrical environment as well, which can affect surface chemistry, static discharge, and dust cling," Farrell said in a report from The Economic Times of India.

"We want to develop a fully three-dimensional model to examine the effects of solar wind expansion around the edges of a mountain. We now examine the vertical expansion, but we want to also know what happens horizontally," said Farrell.

As early as 2013, NASA will launch the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) mission that will orbit the Moon and could look for the dust flows predicted by the team’s research. The LADEE mission will launch from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island aboard a Minotaur V next October 2012.

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