The space agency will launch two satellites linked by a kilometer cable to understand how strange spirals of light and shadow form on the Moon. What hypothesis is there so far?
The man conquered the Moon in 1969. Long 48 years have passed, but there are still mysteries to solve. One of them, the one that most reveals the astronomers, is the one of the lunar tattoos. For years, they have sought to determine how the lights and shadows form on the satellite and how magnetic anomalies influence them.
So, in an attempt to answer the question, NASA announced the Bi-Sat Observations of the Lunar Atmosphere above Swirls (BOLAS) project, which will be developed by a team from the Goddard Space Center, Maryland. The curious thing about the mission is that they plan to launch two satellites linked with a cable that is 180 kilometers long. Why two satellites tied instead of separated? The answer lies in the money. It seeks to save fuel. Then, they plan that once the satellites are 100 kilometers above the Moon they separate the distance that the cable allows. That is, the satellites will cover 180 kilometers of the lunar surface.
The union with the cable allows to support the two in orbit with less fuel. As a result of the mass concentrations, changes occur in the gravitational field. They attract or push themselves to nearby objects. With satellites attached, the outer one resists the gravitational force to keep the other at a safe distance without the need for extra energy to prevent its collision with the Moon.
The satellites that will carry out the mission are two CubeSat, that will be in charge to explore more than one hundred points of the Moon to dispel the doubt around the existence of the “lunar tattoos”, as the own denominated NASA. The tandem will remain in orbit for a year and will try to pinpoint the mechanisms of hydrogen on its surface, its regolith layer, topography and plasma conditions.
So far, the hypotheses that they handle is that the presence of tattoos is explained by the behavior of the magnetic field remains on the surface, which add to other phenomena such as solar winds and impacts of tiny meteorites. Such a combination would cause physical and chemical changes on the surface that would lead to darkening it.
However, there is still no certainty and much less consensus about its origin. In fact, a study in recent days revealed that, based on the analysis of the rocks extracted by the Apollo 15 mission, the lunar magnetic field would have lasted twice as long. Instead of disappearing 3.190 million years ago – as was believed – it would have died out between 2,500 and 1 billion years ago.