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The Moon Once Had An Atmosphere

12 Oct 2017, 11:00 UTC
The Moon Once Had An Atmosphere
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

For centuries humans have dreamed of traveling to the Moon. We achieved that dream in 1969, but found our sister world to be a dry airless rock. Most of the early stories of a journey to the Moon painted a very different picture, giving the Moon a breathable atmosphere, and perhaps even exotic life. We now know the Moon is barren of life, but there was a time when the Moon had an atmosphere.
Our Moon doesn’t have an atmosphere because it is too small and doesn’t have a strong magnetic field. Any atmosphere it might have had would be stripped away by the solar wind that barrages the small world. In contrast, our planet has more mass to hold its atmosphere close, and a strong magnetic field to protect it. But that doesn’t mean the Moon couldn’t have had an atmosphere for a short time, and new evidence shows that it did.
About 3.5 billion years ago, the broad dark patches we see on the lunar surface first formed. Known as maria, they were created by large lava flows that later cooled to become basalt plains. During the Apollo missions of the 1960s and 1970s, astronauts brought back ...

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