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NASA’s Latest Concern: The Moon is Getting Rusty

2020 is the weirdo gift that keeps on giving.

The civilized world has always been fascinated with conspiracy theories.  We’ve grown so accustomed to the safety net of a 1st world society that we now have time to ponder the possibility that other possibilities exist in terms of even the most steadfast pieces of information that we’ve deduced.

This has been true for decades, if not longer, but the advent of improved science and the ability to communicate around the planet in near-real-time has only exacerbated the number of coincidences that can be strung together in order to create these tapestries of speciation.  From JFK’s assassination to the death of Osama bin Laden, and from 9/11 to RussiaGate, there are alternative historical hypotheses available on a wide range of subjects.

For many, one of the strangest conspiracy theories comes from NASA, and their purported faking of the moon landing – sometimes said to have been assisted by legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick.

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And then, if you end up going down that rabbit hole, you may very well find yourself dealing with ancient alien theorists who believe that the moon itself is some sort of man-made or alien-made structure, covered in space dust and debris.

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And let’s not forget that there are plenty of folks online who will talk about the “hollow moon” theory and the strange ways in which our astral companion has been described as “ringing like a bell“.

Sure, that sounds crazy, but so does the idea that the moon is rusting.

Rust, also known as an iron oxide, is a reddish compound that forms when iron is exposed to water and oxygen. Rust is the result of a common chemical reaction for nails, gates, the Grand Canyon’s red rocks — and even Mars. The Red Planet is nicknamed after its reddish hue that comes from the rust it acquired long ago when iron on its surface combined with oxygen and water, according to a statement from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

But not all celestial environments are optimal for rusting, especially our dry, atmosphere-free moon.

“It’s very puzzling,” study lead author Shuai Li, an assistant researcher at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa’s Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, said in the statement. “The Moon is a terrible environment for [rust] to form in.”

Scientists believe that the real reason for the moon’s rust, however, is earthly.

The moon doesn’t have an atmosphere of its own to provide sufficient amounts of oxygen, but it has trace amounts donated by Earth’s atmosphere, according to the statement. This terrestrial oxygen travels to the moon along an elongated extension of the planet’s magnetic field called a “magnetotail.”

Earth’s magnetotail can reach all the way to the near side of the moon, where more of the hematite was found, according to the statement. What’s more, at every full moon, the magnetotail blocks 99% of solar wind from blasting the moon, drawing a temporary curtain over the lunar surface, allowing periods of time for rust to form. But there’s still one extra ingredient that’s needed for rust to form: water.

The moon is mostly devoid of water, save for frozen water found in lunar craters on the moon’s far side — far from where most of the hematite was found. But the researchers propose that fast-moving dust particles that bombard the moon might free water molecules locked into the moon’s surface layer, allowing the water to mix with the iron. These dust particles might even be carrying water molecules themselves, and their impact might create heat that could increase the oxidation rate, the researchers said.

And despite the possible terrestrial explanation, the moon beginning to rust is still quite the metaphor for 2020.

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