Sparks on the Moon

Conversation Date: 
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM PT (3:00 PM - 4:00 PM ET)
Title Slide

Every time you see a picture of an airless body in the Solar System, you are looking at a surface that has been altered by external processes collectively known as "space weathering". Understanding how space weathering works is one of the keys to understanding these surfaces. I show how the Sun may cause an overlooked form of weathering. Solar storms sporadically emit energetic charged particles that can charge the top ~1 mm of the lunar surface so much that, in the coldest locations, they might cause tiny "sparks".  If so, this sparking may slowly alter soil on the Moon. I also show how other locations in the Solar System that might experience this form of weathering.  

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Dr. Andrew Jordan is a Research Scientist at the EOS Space Science Center, University of New Hampshire, and the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute, NASA Ames Research Center.  Andrew is a Science Team member of the Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation (CRaTER) on NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). He is also a Co-Investigator on the NASA SSERVI team DREAM2 (Dynamic Response of the Environment at the Asteroids, the Moon, and moons of Mars). He specializes in understanding how the space environment affects the surfaces of airless bodies in the Solar System, and he is active in education and public outreach.

Additional Resources:
The Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation Educational Kit can be found here:

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Recording Files:
Audio file MP3 (8.75 MB)
Transcript File:
Presentation File:
Presentation PDF (13.01 MB)
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