Research ArticlePLANETARY SCIENCE

When the Moon had a magnetosphere

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Science Advances  14 Oct 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 42, eabc0865
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc0865

Abstract

Apollo lunar samples reveal that the Moon generated its own global magnetosphere, lasting from ~4.25 to ~2.5 billion years (Ga) ago. At peak lunar magnetic intensity (4 Ga ago), the Moon was volcanically active, likely generating a very tenuous atmosphere, and, it is believed, was at a geocentric distance of ~18 Earth radii (RE). Solar storms strip a planet’s atmosphere over time, and only a strong magnetosphere would be able to provide maximum protection. We present simplified magnetic dipole field modeling confined within a paraboloidal-shaped magnetopause to show how the expected Earth-Moon coupled magnetospheres provide a substantial buffer from the expected intense solar wind, reducing Earth’s atmospheric loss to space.

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