Washington, January 4 (ANI): A new research by scientists has shed new light on how the moon gets its exospehere.
Several decades ago, scientists discovered that the Moon, long thought to have no atmosphere, actually does have an extremely thin exosphere.
Scientists generally believe that the ions that make up the lunar exosphere are generated at the Moon's surface by interaction with solar photons, plasma in the Earth's magnetosphere, or micrometeorites.
However, scientists have been uncertain about which processes are the main contributors of lunar exosphere ions.
Using instruments aboard the Japanese lunar orbiter SELENE (also known as Kaguya), Takaaki Tanaka and his team from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, made the first spacecraft-based observations of the lunar exosphere when the Moon was inside Earth's magnetosphere.
They detected ions of several elements at 100-kilometer (62-mile) altitude above the lunar surface.
Previous studies have detected Moon-originating ions when the Moon was in the solar wind.
This new study is the first to detect such ions when the Moon was not affected by solar wind particles or the Earth's magnetotail plasma.
The results, which provide new evidence about the origin of the lunar exosphere, are consistent with the idea that solar photon-driven processes dominate in supplying exosphere components. (ANI)