We Asked a NASA Scientist: Is There Weather on the Moon?

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Moon

The Moon, lacking an Earth-like atmosphere, doesn’t experience typical weather like wind or rain but does undergo “space weather.” This is caused by factors such as solar wind and meteoroids, which continuously alter the lunar soil and can form a minimal atmosphere or exosphere. As such, while the Moon doesn’t have traditional weather, the need to forecast space weather becomes crucial as we plan further lunar expeditions. This image, based on data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, shows the face of the Moon we see from Earth. Credits: NASA / GSFC / Arizona State University

Is there weather on the Moon?

Well, because the Moon doesn’t have a significant atmosphere like Earth, it does not experience weather, like wind or atmospheric temperature or precipitation like rain and snow. However, the Moon does experience what we refer to as space weather. Space weather loosely refers to how changing conditions throughout the solar system, like the varying solar wind, which is composed of charged particles from the Sun, and meteoroid streams, affect planetary surfaces and volatile cycles.

Is there weather on the Moon? Yes, but not the weather you’re used to. The Sun’s solar wind is a type of “space weather” that can have a big impact on the Moon due to its lack of atmosphere. It can also affect all sorts of things like satellites, electronics and communications. Better understanding how space weather interacts with the Moon will be critical as we send #Artemis astronauts to the lunar surface. Credit: NASA

So at the Moon, the solar wind and meteoroids have direct access to the surface and they continuously alter the lunar soil. These same processes can eject gases from the lunar soil and form a very tenuous lunar atmosphere, which we refer to as an exosphere.

At Earth, our atmosphere and magnetosphere largely protect us from space weather. However, in the uppermost regions of Earth’s atmosphere, it can be a problem for satellite technologies.

So is there weather on the Moon? The Moon does not experience weather like on Earth related to the atmosphere. However, it does experience space weather and that will be very important to forecast as humans return to the Moon.

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