Oxygen Atoms from Earth Bombard Moon

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Earth seen from Moon's surface

Over the past few decades, countless astronauts have made famous steps on the moon. However, studies show that Earth has already made its mark on the moon billions of years before humans even existed due to the oxygen atoms being released into space.

Scientists in Japan observed that their main moon-orbiting spacecraft known as Kaguya, suggests that the moon is bombarded by tons of oxygen atoms from Earth’s upper atmosphere for a few days each month. The probe had detected a dramatic difference in the types of oxygen striking itself during a narrow window which occurred once a month. These ions also arrived during a time period of about five days when Earth’s magnetosphere, which is the region surrounding the earth, blocked the solar wind. In addition, the oxygen ions on the moon’s surface moved at much slower speeds than those with a single positive charge and those that are usually carried by the solar wind. All of these details support the fact that these oxygen molecules were from Earth.

According to planetary scientist Kentaro Terada of the Osaka University in Japan, it is estimated that the beginning of the battle between oxygen molecules and the moon began approximately 2.4 billion years ago when photosynthetic microbes first flourished. Photosynthetic microbes are the complex process by which carbon dioxide, water, and certain inorganic salts are converted into carbohydrates by algae, green plants, and other bacteria by using energy from the sun as well as chlorophyll. Also, Terada along with many of his colleagues stated that an average of about 26,000 ions passed by the sensor on Kaguya for every second during every explosion of each oxygen molecule. Researchers also encourage the hypothesis stating that these oxygen ions were probably from the atmosphere’s ozone layer, in which wavelengths of sunlight split ozone into regular oxygen molecules including single atoms. Afterwards, these single oxygen atoms filtered upward to higher parts of Earth’s atmosphere where they eventually drifted off into space.

Many may think their dreams of actually being able to live on the moon are closer than they thought it would be, but they are unfortunately wrong. Even though an average of about 4 quantities of nonillion atoms of oxygen has been embedded in the moon’s surface over the over the last 2.4 billion years, research shows that this, unfortunately, won’t make settling on the moon a dramatic amount easier than before. However, some researchers state that if people can find a method to use the oxygen trapped on the moon’s surface, it would be revolutionary. According to Kraemer student, Juliane G., “That’s so cool!”