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Artistic impression of the Moon, looking over the Imbrium Basin, with lavas erupting, venting gases, and producing a visible atmosphere. Credit: NASA MSFC

A new study shows that an atmosphere was produced around the ancient Moon, 3 to 4 billion years ago, when intense volcanic eruptions spewed gases above the surface faster than they could escape to space. The study titled “Lunar volcanism produced a transient atmosphere around the ancient Moon” was published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

In new work, Dr. Debra H. Needham, Research Scientist of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, and Dr. David A. Kring, Senior Staff Scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute, and PI of SSERVI’s Center for Lunar Science and Exploration (CLSE) team, calculated the amounts of gases that rose from the erupting lavas as they flowed over the surface and showed that those gases accumulated around the Moon to form a transient atmosphere. The atmosphere was thickest during the peak in volcanic activity about 3.5 billion years ago and, when created, would have persisted for about 70 million years before being lost to space.

For more information, visit the LPI News page.

Posted by: Soderman/SSERVI Staff
Source: SSERVI Team/ LPI

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