Feeds

Shocking news on lunar surface

Boffins find lots of static build up

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Scientists have discovered that the surface of the moon can accumulate a huge charge of static electricity - up to 4,500 V has been detected so far. The scientists, writing in Geophysics Research Letters number 34, say that their findings could have significant implications for those planning to colonise the rocky globe.

While astronauts would most likely be protected from any discharge by his or her suit, a spark from the surface could disrupt or even burn out electronic equipment.

The charge could also be responsible for levitating the ultra-fine moon dust. The dust is so fine it gets into absolutely everything, getting past vacuum seals and clogging equipment.

The scientists analysed data from the Lunar Prospector, which orbited the moon in 1998/1999. They were looking for traces of charge that would have built up as the solar wind slams into the lunar surface.

One of the authors of the research, Jasper Halekas of the University of California, told Nature.com that the 4,500V they detected is "more than enough to do some damage, if the electric field only extends over small distances".

If the charge is very diffuse, it might not cause a shock at all, he added.

A charge builds up on the lunar surface when it is hit by electrically charged particles. This is particularly intense when the moon passes through the Earth's magnetotail, and during solar storms.

Although the local field strength is not known, if the charge accumulates in sufficiently small areas, it could cause problems for colonising astronauts, particularly during dangerous solar activity.

With no atmosphere, the lunar surface would be a very dangerous place during either a solar storm or a sweep through the magnetotail.

The latter can be predicted and planned for, but astronauts would rely on their instruments, vulnerable to the effects of the static build up, to warn of a coming solar storm. This means instruments heading for the moon would need the same kind of spark-proof protections as satellites orbiting Earth. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
HUGE SHARK as big as a WWII SUBMARINE died out, allowing whales to exist
Who'd win a fight: Megalodon or a German battleship?
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Business security measures using SSL
Examines the major types of threats to information security that businesses face today and the techniques for mitigating those threats.