The lunar surface as a recorder of astrophysical processesOPEN ACCESS 

Ian A. Crawford, Katherine H. Joy, Jan H. Pasckert, Harald Hiesinger

Published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, A379: 20190562 (2020)
Review article


“The lunar surface has been exposed to the space environment for billions of years and during this time has accumulated records of a wide range of astrophysical phenomena. These include solar wind particles and the cosmogenic products of solar particle events which preserve a record of the past evolution of the Sun, and cosmogenic nuclides produced by high-energy galactic cosmic rays which potentially record the galactic environment of the Solar System through time. The lunar surface may also have accreted material from the local interstellar medium, including supernova ejecta and material from interstellar clouds encountered by the Solar System in the past. Owing to the Moon’s relatively low level of geological activity, absence of an atmosphere, and, for much of its history, lack of a magnetic field, the lunar surface is ideally suited to collect these astronomical records. Moreover, the Moon exhibits geological processes able to bury and thus both preserve and ‘time-stamp’ these records, although gaining access to them is likely to require a significant scientific infrastructure on the lunar surface. “