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Moon rock harvested by Apollo astronauts unveils secret of Moon's magnetism

It has been decades since man has walked on the moon. Scientists have made an important discovery about the moon recently using rocks recovered by astronauts from the Apollo missions of the 1970's.

One of the big questions that have stumped scientists since the early exploration of the moon is why lunar rocks are magnetic. Earth's magnetic field is produced by its rotating, iron core; something that the moon lacks.

Scientists at MIT believe they have finally solved the mystery. The scientists believe that about 4.2 billion years ago the moon had a liquid core that produced a strong magnetic field, similar to what the Earth has today.

Evidence of the molten core theory was found by analyzing the oldest of the moon rocks, which were not subjected to major shocks from impacts on the moon's surface. These later impacts erase all evidence of earlier magnetic fields.

The particular rock used by the researchers is one collected by astronaut Harrison "Jack" Schmitt who is the only geologist to ever walk on the moon. Ben Weiss, one of the MIT researchers, told Space.com, "Many people think that it's the most interesting lunar rock."

Weiss and other team members used a commercial rock magnetometer fitted with a special robotic arm to study the faint traces of magnetism in the rock. The researcher say that the test results allowed them to rule out other possible sources of magnetic traces in the rock, such as the magnetic fields that are briefly generated by the impacts on the moon. The magnetic fields generated by these collisions reportedly generate mini magnetic fields lasting mere seconds up to a full day for very large impacts.

The readings the scientist made show that the rock was in the presence of a magnetic field for millions of years and that the magnetic fields must have come from a magnetic dynamo creating by a rotating core. The magnetic field on the moon is believed to have been about 1/50th of the magnetic field the earth has today.

Space.com says that the findings fit into the theory that the moon was created when a Mars-sized body collided with the Earth, blasting much of its crust into space where it clumped together and formed the moon.



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RE: Interesting...
By menace on 1/16/2009 4:49:16 PM , Rating: 4
You need to research your "facts".

The microwave oven was an accidental discovery from experiments with the magnetron used for radar in 1940's. An engineer noted that the chocolate bars in his pocket were melting. Raytheon patented the concept of the microwave in 1945 and in 1947 the first microwave oven, the Radarange was built for $5000. This preceded space exploration by 10 years or more. The microwave oven can be viewed as a technology that resulted from a world war not space exploration.

I don't think the argument that we would not have Technology X or Y if we did not have a space program holds much salt. While the space program did have influence on speed of technological development and a few exotic technologies that may not have otherwise yet come to pass, I have no doubt we would still have cell phones and PCs today regardless. Although they might be look like they did five or ten years ago.


RE: Interesting...
By dragonbif on 1/16/2009 7:50:03 PM , Rating: 5
There are 3 things that really push us to advance faster in technology; Space, War and Microsoft Windows Vista!


RE: Interesting...
By mindless1 on 1/17/2009 3:36:56 AM , Rating: 2
If there's any push to advance faster, versus the normal non-faster advances spurn by survival, profit, and power, it'd be competition.

Sad thing is, competition isn't necessarily of benefit when contrasted with collaboration. Make everyone reinvent the wheel and you waste a lot of time that could be put to better use.


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