Shop Windows to the Universe

Ready, Set, SCIENCE!, by the National Research Council, focuses on K-8 science classsrooms. Check out the other publications in our online store, as well as classroom materials.
This is an image of the Moon showing various minerals found on the surface.
Click on image for full size

The Moon's Remnant Magnetism

Although the Moon does not appear to have a magnetosphere surrounding it, it *is* a magnetic object in space. Scientists think that the magnetism of the Moon's surface is leftover from a time when the Moon's magnetic field was actively created by a dynamo within the lunar core, and that this remnant magnetism may gradually erode away.

Theories also suggest that the Moon's magnetism may come from collisions with other celestial bodies such as asteroids and comets, which might have imparted to the Moon some magnetic properties.

Some regions of the Moon's surface are more magnetic than others. A strip of the lunar crust called the Rima Sirsalis seems to be very strongly magnetic. Measurements of the uneveness of the magnetism and depth of the lunar crust such as those being made by the Lunar Prospector mission can supply information about the magnetism of the surface, as well as the size and electrical conductivity of the lunar core. Ultimately these measurements will help scientists better understand the Moon's origins. For example, if the core contains more magnetic elements (such as iron) than the Earth, then the collision/ejection theory of lunar origin loses some support.

Scientists believe that certain lunar surface features, such as the albedo swirls, may have magnetic origins. The swirls resemble unstirred cream in a coffee cup. Researchers suspect that the contrasting light and dark regions might indicate the juxtaposition of irregular magnetic fields. Using data obtained both from its Magnetometer and Electron Reflectometer instruments, Lunar Prospector will map global locations, strengths and orientations of lunar crustal magnetic fields. With these experiments, scientists can learn if there is a relationship between such magnetic fields and the surface.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, as well as books on science education!

Windows to the Universe Community



You might also be interested in:

Cool It! Game

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

The Moon's Magnetosphere

Unlike the Earth, which has a protective shield around it called the magnetosphere, the surface of the moon is not protected from the solar wind. This picture shows the magnetosphere surrounding the Earth,...more

How do we know what the inside of a Planet or Moon is like?

You may wonder how it is that scientists know what the inside of a planet is like. The interior of a moon or planet can be closely determined from spacecraft navigation data when a spacecraft passes by...more

Element (Chemical Element)

An element (also called a "chemical element") is a substance made up entirely of atoms having the same atomic number; that is, all of the atoms have the same number of protons. Hydrogen, helium, oxygen,...more

Detecting Planetary Magnetism

A magnetometer is an instrument for measuring magnetic fields. Many spacecraft carry magnetometers to measure the magnetic fields around planets they orbit or fly by. When a spacecraft takes such measurements,...more

The Co-Formation Theory

The co-formation theory explains the origin of the moon as an object which formed out of the primitive solar nebula at the same time and roughly the same place as the Earth. As shown in this picture, while...more

The Lunar Atmosphere

In decades past it was accepted that moons such as the Earth's moon or the moons of Jupiter were airless bodies with no atmosphere whatsoever. Now, however, measurements have shown that most of these moons...more

Full Moon Names

You may have heard people refer to a Full Moon in the autumn as the "Harvest Moon" or the "Hunter's Moon". Native Americans in the eastern and northern parts of North America had special names for the...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA