Feeds

Shocking news on lunar surface

Boffins find lots of static build up

Top three mobile application threats

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. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane
Our Vulture 2 livery is wrapped, and it's les noix du mutt
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
R.I.P. LADEE: Probe smashes into lunar surface at 3,600mph
Swan dive signs off successful science mission
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.