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NASA: Some of moon's craters may be electrified

New NASA calculations suggest that solar wind blowing across the moon's surface may electrically charge polar craters.

This image provided by NASA shows the first image taken of the moon from the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite on Oct. 9, 2009. New NASA calculations have found that some of the moon's solar craters may be electrically charged by solar wind.


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Exploring the craters at the moon's north and south poles may be even more challenging than previously thought for future astronauts. New NASA calculations now show that solar wind streaming over the rough lunar surface may electrically charge polar craters on the moon.

The moon's polar craters are of particular interest to researchers because resources, including water ice, exist at these lunar structures. The moon's orientation to the sun keeps the bottoms of polar craters in permanent shadow, allowing temperatures there to plunge below minus 400 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 240 degrees Celsius), cold enough to store volatile material like water for billions of years.

"However, our research suggests that, in addition to the wicked cold, explorers and robots at the bottoms of polar lunar craters may have to contend with a complex electrical environment as well, which can affect surface chemistry, static discharge, and dust cling," said William Farrell of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., the lead author of the study.

IN PICTURES: The full moon


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