The Moon is shining brighter than the Sun — and that is dangerous

NASA


  • The Moon outshines the Sun as cosmic rays bounce off its surface creating gamma radiation.
  • They aren’t visible to the naked eye but were spotted using NASA’s Fermi Gamma Ray Telescope.
  • Gamma rays may make the Moon shine all year around but they’re fatal to lunar explorers who plan to land on the surface.
The Moon shines because it reflects light from the Sun — but what if it actually shone brighter than the Sun itself?

All it takes for that to happen is radiation, gamma rays and National Aeronautics and Space Organisation’s ( NASA) Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope.

Moon shines brighter than the SunNASA

Unlike the Sun, the Moon doesn’t have a protective magnetic field around itself. All the cosmic rays, which are basically high energy radiation, slam right onto the lunar surface.

Cosmic rays are mostly protons accelerated by some of the most energetic phenomena in the universe, like the blast waves of exploding stars and jets produced when matter falls into black holes.

Mario Nicola Mazziotta, a researcher at Italy’s National Institute for Nuclear Physics, NASA statement

The result is an explosion of gamma rays, which aren’t visible to the naked eye.

But look at the Moon with NASA's Fermi Telescope and it lights up like a tree on Christmas Eve.

"Seen at these energies, the Moon would never go through its monthly cycle of phases and would always look full," said Francesco Laparco, a researcher at Italy’s National Institute for Nuclear Physics, in a statement to NASA.

Why care about gamma rays?

Gamma rays may make the Moon shine all year around but they’re fatal to lunar explorers who plan to land on the surface.

Studying the amount of radiation on the Moon can help space agencies, like NASA which plans to send astronauts to space in 2024, have better protection in place.

Apollo astronauts are already paying the price with higher mortality rate than average due to heart diseases. And this is no ordinary heart disease, it was brought on by exposure to deep space radiation according to a paper published in Scientific Reports.

The study asserts that exposure to cosmic radiation causes permanent damage to a person’s DNA and hampers the ability of the body to heal itself.

And, it’s because of gamma radiation that scientists are wondering whether it will ever be possible to build a safe habitat for humans off-the-planet — ever.

See also:
Stop, drop and roll — Chandrayaan 2 prepares to enter the Moon's orbit tomorrow

What happens when an asteroid actually hits Earth
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