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Monday, 21 November 2016

The Universe in 101 words: Did the Moon ever have an atmosphere?


Today’s Lunar atmosphere is real, but sparse: It’s only a trillionth the pressure of Earth’s. Very occasionally it's added to by underground reservoirs, created by decaying radioactive elements

But, although the Moon's low gravity loses gas fast, it was once a volcanic world: For a billion years the  gases spewed out by vast chains of volcanoes (and occasional giant impacts) gave the Moon an atmosphere occasionally as thick as Mars’. 

That’s thick enough for wind, clouds, frosts – a dynamic world. Once, if you looked up at the Moon, you’d have seen lunar clouds blowing across it’s face… 

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