Reiner Gamma lunar swirl. Image credit: NASA/LRO

Reiner Gamma lunar swirl. Image credit: NASA/LRO

Welcome back, Earthlings!

The moon has some mysterious looking “tattoos” that swirl and look like coffee creamer. What could cause these mysterious swirls? Turns out, we may have an answer!

The answer may point to the moon’s internally-generated magnetic field and previous volcanic activity! A joint study between Rutgers University and University of California Berkeley researchers are on the case!

We have known recently that the lunar swirls share space with localized magnetic fields and that when those fields deflect particles from solar wind, parts of the moon’s surface weathers more slowly than other regions. But in what capacity and evolution? This is what makes these markings so mysterious!

What could the geology be? Let’s think of it like a magnet beneath the surface!

Researchers think that these subsurface magnets are actually long, narrow lava tubes formed by ancient flowing lava! Past experiments have shown that, when heated above 1,112 degrees Fahrenheit in a zero-oxygen environment, certain minerals in moon rocks break down and release metallic iron, making the rocks extremely magnetic!

 LROC image of more lunar swirl patterns!

LROC image of more lunar swirl patterns!

Thank you for reading and come back next week for a look at upcoming asteroid missions and discoveries!