The march of science and understanding our Earth and the Universe we’re embedded within has been astounding.
I remember being amazed when it was discovered that dust from African deserts was blown all the way to the Americas and helped nourish soils and rivers. It was incredible, unbelievable, up until one spent a little time thinking about it, then it turned into an embarrassing ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ moment. That’s because once we stop to think about the details of our global heat and moisture distribution engine in action, it’s obvious that there would have to be massive movement of material across the Earth, through all sorts of pathways.
The reason I’ve been thinking about that old epiphany, is because there’s a new study out that some of the oxygen constantly escaping from Earth’s atmosphere lands on the moon during full moon periods when solar wind blown oxygen reaches the moon, with some possibly drifting over to the dark side of the moon.
How on Earth could scientists figure that out, you may ask. Rust. Read all about it:
Has Earth's oxygen rusted the Moon for billions of years? Date: September 2, 2020 Source: University of Hawaii at Manoa Summary: To the surprise of many planetary scientists, the oxidized iron mineral hematite has been discovered at high latitudes on the Moon.
“… More hematite on the lunar nearside suggested that it may be related to Earth,” said Li. “This reminded me a discovery by the Japanese Kaguya mission that oxygen from the Earth’s upper atmosphere can be blown to the lunar surface by solar wind when the Moon is in the Earth’s magnetotail. So, Earth’s atmospheric oxygen could be the major oxidant to produce hematite. Water and interplanetary dust impact may also have played critical roles. …”
Shuai Li, Paul G. Lucey, Abigail A. Fraeman, Andrew R. Poppe, Vivian Z. Sun, Dana M. Hurley and Peter H. Schultz. Widespread hematite at high latitudes of the Moon. Science Advances, 2020 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aba1940