Fri. Oct 23rd, 2020

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Why the moon’s early magnetic field might be responsible for life on earth


The habitability of a planet depends upon many components. One is the existence of a powerful and long-lived magnetic area. These fields are generated hundreds of kilometers under the planet’s floor in its liquid core and lengthen far into area – shielding the ambiance from dangerous photo voltaic radiation.

With out a robust magnetic area, a planet struggles to hold on to a breathable ambiance – which is dangerous information for all times as we all know it. A brand new research, printed in Science Advances, means that the Moon’s now extinct magnetic area might have helped defend our planet’s ambiance as life was forming round Four billion years in the past.

Right this moment, Earth has a powerful world magnetic area that protects the ambiance and low-orbiting satellites from harsh photo voltaic radiation. In distinction, the Moon doesn’t possess both a breathable ambiance or a world magnetic area.

World magnetic fields are generated by the movement of molten iron within the cores of planets and moons. Preserving the fluid transferring requires vitality, similar to warmth trapped inside the core. When there may be inadequate vitality, the sector dies.

With out a world magnetic area, the charged particles of the photo voltaic wind (radiation from the Solar) passing near a planet generate electrical fields that may speed up charged atoms, often known as ions, out of the ambiance. This course of is taking place as we speak on Mars and it’s dropping oxygen consequently – one thing that has been straight measured by the Mars ambiance and risky evolution (Maven) mission. The photo voltaic wind also can collide with the ambiance and knock molecules into area.

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The Maven staff estimates that the quantity of oxygen misplaced from the Martian ambiance all through its historical past is equal to that contained in a world layer of water, 23 meters thick.

[Read: The Moon’s surface is rusting — and Earth may be to blame]

Probing historic magnetic fields

The brand new analysis investigates how the Earth’s and Moon’s early fields might have interacted. However probing these historic fields isn’t straightforward. Scientists depend on historic rocks that include small grains that obtained magnetized because the rocks fashioned, saving the route and power of the magnetic area at the moment and place. Such rocks are uncommon and extracting their magnetic sign requires cautious and delicate laboratory measurement.