Chinese scientists explain the appearance of rusty iron on the moon

(ORDO NEWS) — A study of lunar soil samples delivered by China‘s Chang’e-5 mission linked fragments of oxidized iron to glass particles that form when meteorites fall.

Apparently, it is their blows that trigger the reactions that cause the oxidation of iron and the appearance of “rust” without the participation of oxygen and water.

Samples brought back from the Moon by Apollo astronauts have previously found compounds of iron(III) oxide , hematite, or simply rust.

Even then, this discovery puzzled experts, because the lunar soil has not oxidizing, but reducing properties, there is practically no oxygen on the satellite, there is very little water, and all of it is in a solid state.

Subsequent research has only complicated the mystery.

Recent surveys by India‘s Chandrayaan-1 probe have shown that there is much more hematite on the Moon than one might imagine, especially near the poles.

Then hypotheses appeared that explained the formation of rust by weak “leaks” of oxygen from the earth’s atmosphere. Some of this gas can reach the moon‘s surface, oxidizing the iron.

The next samples of lunar iron (III) fell into the hands of scientists quite recently, thanks to the work of the Chinese mission Chang’e-5.

The device delivered about 1700 grams of regolith collected in the north of the Ocean of Storms.

A couple of billion years ago , volcanic activity remained in this area , and the local surface is much younger than the one visited by the Apollo missions.

The analysis showed that this material contains rather large amounts of hematite. Its accumulation over such a short period of time cannot be explained by the weak influence of terrestrial oxygen.

Therefore, the scientists who studied the samples proposed and substantiated another way for the appearance of “lunar rust”.

The authors studied sample CE5C0400YJFM00408 and found that the hematite particles in it are associated with tiny glass fragments. Such glass agglutinates arise from the impact of meteorites.

This suggests that “lunar rust” is formed in the process of rapid reactions occurring during the fall of micrometeorites.

Recall that the Moon is devoid of an atmosphere, and such bodies reach its surface much more often, bombarding it almost continuously.

Such chemical reactions are called disproportionation.

When they flow, the same element acts as both a reducing agent and an oxidizing agent, leading to the appearance of two different compounds containing this element in different oxidation states.

Apparently, these transformations are undergone by the iron contained in the lunar regolith, which leads to the accumulation of “rust” in it.


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