moon-ire

Just when you thought the moon couldn’t get any lamer, it starts telling dad jokes.

As much as I enjoy giving the moon a hard time for being a dumb old rock that never lived up to its sci-fi potential*, every now and then something about it, resembling interesting, catches my eye.

The moon has large spotty, swirly features that are brighter than surrounding surfaces but have no additional topography. They are called, wait for it– Lunar Swirls, and are associated with areas of magnetic anomaly. Now I know what you’re thinking: “Magnetic anomaly? Y’mean like in ‘Lost’, with plane crashing, injury healing, time warping abilities?” First of all spoilers, and second of all no. These magnetic anomalies (henceforth demoted to the less sci-fi term ‘magnetic bubbles’) protect certain surfaces from solar wind particle bombardment, which in turn keeps those areas brighter.**

The question behind this phenomenon had been in how these relatively weak bubbles deflected the strong solar wind. As it turns out it may be possible through an electric field that is generated when the solar wind’s electrons and protons are separated during bubble collision. Scientists were able to create a lab version of such a protective bubble by placing a magnet in a tunnel of streaming charged particles. The magnet and anything behind it was shielded by the resulting electric field!

So on the moon it only resulted in reverse-freckles, but it invites the contemplation of simple magnets used to promote strong electric force fields.

Magnets. Is there anything they can’t do?

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This post was brought to you by Cassini’s finding’s on Titan.
and also this true color picture of Titan. Go ahead, compare it to color photos of our dull moon.
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*Fact
**allowing them to retain their original color while the non-protected zones get solar-wind scorched.