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The lunar surface is a harsh landscape; a bone dry expanse of
impact-pummelled rock whose "seas" have long been known as
The only precipitation is in the form of solar and cosmic radiation
that gradually darkens the dust and corrupts the cells of any
Yet amidst this hostile landscape a number of safer havens exist
where the lunar surface escapes much of this sleet of radiation.
One such benign feature, named Reiner Gamma , lies on the
Moon’s Earth facing side and is marked by a 37-mile-long (60 km)
bright swirl and one of the strongest magnetic fields found on
the lunar surface.
“The Moon presently has no global magnetic field similar to the
The observed fields [such as that at Reiner Gamma] are caused
by permanent magnetization of parts of the lunar crust,” said
Lon Hood of the University of Arizona.
These isolated pockets of lunar magnetism were discovered
in the early 1970’s by lunar-orbiting spacecraft and their
formation is thought to be as dramatic as their appearance.
This material became magnetized by the strong magnetic field
present at the time of impact and also from the magnetic fields
generated during other large, basin-forming impacts.