NASA study finds solar storms could spark soils at moon's poles

January 6, 2017 by Bill Steigerwald, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
A map showing the permanently shadowed regions (blue) that cover about 3 percent of the moon's south pole. Credit: NASA Goddard/LRO mission

Powerful solar storms can charge up the soil in frigid, permanently shadowed regions near the lunar poles, and may possibly produce "sparks" that could vaporize and melt the soil, perhaps as much as meteoroid impacts, according to NASA-funded research. This alteration may become evident when analyzing future samples from these regions that could hold the key to understanding the history of the moon and solar system.

The has almost no atmosphere, so its surface is exposed to the harsh space environment. Impacts from small meteoroids constantly churn or "garden" the top layer of the dust and rock, called regolith, on the moon. "About 10 percent of this gardened layer has been melted or vaporized by meteoroid impacts," said Andrew Jordan of the University of New Hampshire, Durham. "We found that in the moon's permanently shadowed regions, sparks from solar storms could melt or vaporize a similar percentage." Jordan is lead author of a paper on this research published online in Icarus August 31, 2016.

Explosive solar activity, like flares and , blasts highly energetic, electrically charged particles into space. Earth's atmosphere shields us from most of this radiation, but on the moon, these particles—ions and electrons—slam directly into the surface. They accumulate in two layers beneath the surface; the bulky ions can't penetrate deeply because they are more likely to hit atoms in the regolith, so they form a layer closer to the surface while the tiny electrons slip through and form a deeper layer. The ions have positive charge while the electrons carry negative charge. Since opposite charges attract, normally these charges flow towards each other and balance out.

In August 2014, however, Jordan's team published simulation results predicting that strong solar storms would cause the regolith in the moon's permanently shadowed regions (PSRs) to accumulate charge in these two layers until explosively released, like a miniature lightning strike. The PSRs are so frigid that regolith becomes an extremely poor conductor of electricity. Therefore, during intense solar storms, the regolith is expected to dissipate the build-up of charge too slowly to avoid the destructive effects of a sudden electric discharge, called . The research estimates the extent that this process can alter the regolith.

As you watch the Moon over the course of a month, you'll notice that different features are illuminated by the Sun at different times. However, there are some parts of the Moon that never see sunlight. These areas are called permanently shadowed regions, and they appear dark because unlike on the Earth, the axis of the Moon is nearly perpendicular to the direction of the sun's light. The result is that the bottoms of certain craters are never pointed toward the Sun, with some remaining dark for over two billion years. However, thanks to new data from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, we can now see into these dark craters in incredible detail. Credit: NASA Goddard/LRO mission
"This process isn't completely new to space science—electrostatic discharges can occur in any poorly conducting (dielectric) material exposed to intense space radiation, and is actually the leading cause of spacecraft anomalies," said Timothy Stubbs of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, a co-author of the paper. The team's analysis was based on this experience. From spacecraft studies and analysis of samples from NASA's Apollo lunar missions, the researchers knew how often large solar storms occur. From previous lunar research, they estimated that the top millimeter of regolith would be buried by meteoroid impacts after about a million years, so it would be too deep to be subject to electric charging during solar storms. Then they estimated the energy that would be deposited over a million years by both meteoroid impacts and dielectric breakdown driven by solar storms, and found that each process releases enough energy to alter the regolith by a similar amount.

"Lab experiments show that dielectric breakdown is an explosive process on a tiny scale," said Jordan. "During breakdown, channels could be melted and vaporized through the grains of soil. Some of the grains may even be blown apart by the tiny explosion. The PSRs are important locations on the moon, because they contain clues to the moon's history, such as the role that easily vaporized material like water has played. But to decipher that history, we need to know in what ways PSRs are not pristine; that is, how they have been weathered by the space environment, including and meteoroid impacts."

Illustration showing how solar energetic particles may cause dielectric breakdown in lunar regolith in a permanently shadowed region (PSR). Tiny breakdown events could occur throughout the floor of the PSR. Credit: NASA/Andrew Jordan

The next step is to search for evidence of dielectric breakdown in PSRs and determine if it could happen in other areas on the moon. Observations from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft indicate that the soil in PSRs is more porous or "fluffy" than other areas, which might be expected if breakdown was blasting apart some of the soil grains there. However, experiments, some already underway, are needed to confirm that breakdown is responsible for this. Also, the lunar night is long—about two weeks—so it can become cold enough for breakdown to occur in other areas on the moon, according to the team. There may even be "sparked" material in the Apollo samples, but the difficulty would be determining if this material was altered by breakdown or a meteoroid impact. The team is working with scientists at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory on experiments to see how breakdown affects the and to look for any tell-tale signatures that could distinguish it from the effects of meteoroid impacts.

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Chris_Reeve
Jan 06, 2017
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cantdrive85
1 / 5 (6) Jan 06, 2017
jonesdumb, where you at?
cantdrive85
1.4 / 5 (10) Jan 06, 2017
"Lab experiments show that dielectric breakdown is an explosive process on a tiny scale,"

Whaaaaat?!?! Lab experiments? Don't these crankpots know the "thought experiment" is valid for proof in regards to these types of issues? Clearly they need a lesson in proper astrophysics.
691Boat
4.4 / 5 (14) Jan 06, 2017
so the second these astrophysicists mention something that you feel belongs to your cult, they are no longer crackpots and actually understand plasma? weird how that works. I bet tomorrow there will be another article that will put you right back to your typical statement that astrophysicists have no understanding of plasma. looking forward to it.
Chris_Reeve
Jan 06, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
691Boat
4.7 / 5 (14) Jan 06, 2017
so you claim it is the journalist's faults that people don't know there is a solar wind? okie dokies. It's probably their fault that nobody takes EU seriously too, right?
barakn
4.7 / 5 (12) Jan 06, 2017
Quite possibly, something similar is also occurring on Io as well, where the "lava" is so hot that it can saturate the cameras. -Hannes_Reeve

Even a relatively cold lava could saturate a camera simply by leaving the shutter open long enough/increasing the aperture big enough, events quite likely to happen on a space probe trying to take pictures of a moon surface where the sunlight is 96% weaker than here on Earth. You ought to know this because I gave you a series of links of over-saturation in images of Earth lavas, but learning and remembering are not your strong suits, eh? Rather than repeat my search, I will refer you to the original discussion. http://phys.org/n...ars.html
yep
1.8 / 5 (10) Jan 07, 2017
so you claim it is the journalist's faults that people don't know there is a solar wind? okie dokies. It's probably their fault that nobody takes EU seriously too, right?

You are as dense as Capitain Stupid and it all goes completely over you head.
Yes where is that electric woo denying JonesDumb eating some crow most likely.
It's the limited scope of understanding the whole picture and the unwavering faith in authoritative dogma that keep you there.
rossim22
2.2 / 5 (10) Jan 07, 2017
It's not about the mainstream taking the "EU theory" seriously. They have no reason to look for anything other than the paradigm they've created due to their confirmational bias. If they never find dark matter or dark energy it wouldn't be a problem because that wouldn't invalidate the theory, and they already believe it to be true. They've already invented physics to cover the observations which contradict general relativity.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 07, 2017
Interesting. A potential power source to electrolysize all that water ice sitting in those craters up there.
Chris_Reeve
Jan 07, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Captain Stumpy
4.6 / 5 (11) Jan 07, 2017
You are as dense as Capitain ... and it all goes completely over you head
@yep the idiot eu cult troll
so, because you can't differentiate between an article & opinion and scientific evidence and source material, it's our fault you're stupid and follow the eu cult?

alright-y then!

.

The science journalists don't themselves understand what a plasma is. They then report that ignorance to the public
@reeve/hannes yep cult member
and i've been telling you this for a long time - that is why argument about science requires source material (like studies, and not pseudoscience links), evidence (like in studies, not random idiot cult quotes) and some comprehension of the basics and not simply adherence to some random authority that validates your bias with nice sounding verbiage

thank you for validating my arguments yet again, yall!

here is a special link for the idiot cd!
https://www.scien...1242.htm
yep
1 / 5 (8) Jan 08, 2017
Captain Stupid how many years and how many posts did you deny this possibility and ridicule for it? Your authoritative impotence is staggering and you are as dense as your imaginary neutron stars, keep on defending the dogma and remaining ignorant of science history, stooge.
cantdrive85
1.4 / 5 (11) Jan 08, 2017
jonesduuummmbbbb;

Still don't have the balls to eat your crow? Just a couple weeks ago you claimed this was impossible that arc discharge could occur on the moon.
https://phys.org/...ess.html
And here you are conveniently absent. If you ignore it, it will go away. Just like this tidbit that you are also "conveniently" mute on;
https://phys.org/...ace.html
Yep, a "revolution" in the understanding of the discharge physics of plasmas, a revolution which has been proposed for sometime now but as with yourself, "conveniently ignored". I also noticed our resident Cap'n Stoopid failed to comment on said "revolution", although I do not get the displeasure of reading them since his dumbass is on "conveniently ignored".
jonesdave
4.2 / 5 (15) Jan 08, 2017
^^^^Don't be so bloody stupid! They are talking about ***possible tiny effects within**** the soil. Not bloody great discharges! Jesus you lot are thick.
Perhaps, with all the electric geniuses at dunderdolts working on the effects of electricity in space, you could point out where they predicted this?
And, if you didn't notice, the previous article you mentioned was about transient lunar phenomena, visible from Earth. The ***proposed*** mechanism is in permanently shadowed regions. Therefore, for the hard of thinking, we would not see them (permanently shadowed being a clue), even if they weren't tiny, and hidden within the soil!
Christ, any mention of 'electric', and you lot start getting giddy!
Remind us again, when have Wal, Don or Dave ever predicted anything correctly?
Which is why it is best to leave it to people who are scientifically literate, and not encumbered by a belief in mythological woo.
jonesdave
3.9 / 5 (11) Jan 08, 2017

It's the limited scope of understanding the whole picture and the unwavering faith in authoritative dogma that keep you there.


As opposed to unwavering faith in neo-Velikovskian woo, you mean?

jonesdave
3.9 / 5 (11) Jan 09, 2017
Just to add a bit more to this, having now read the paper;
the solar energetic particle (SEP) event rates measured during the whole of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission, were never high enough to have any noticeable effect.
There is a lot of mention of "further work/ experimentation is needed."
The effect of the proposed mechanism is expected to lower the albedo (darken) of the regolith in these areas. Observation shows it to actually be higher.
Also, there is currently no proposed way of distinguishing between the effects of the proposed mechanism, and that caused by impact heating.
And, lastly, this effect is hardly new to science, as it has been studied before in regard to spacecraft (1986), as well as being a possibility at Io (1989).

So, quite what the EU non-science crowd are getting their knickers in a twist about, is beyond me.
Maybe they didn't read the paper.
jonesdave
3.9 / 5 (11) Jan 09, 2017
And just in case anybody thinks that this is a "revolution" in scientific thinking, then think again:

"Surface Discharges on Natural Dielectrics in the Solar System."
Campins & Krider (1989)
http://science.sc...4918/622

This is what happens when you rely on press releases to get your 'science'. Maybe, just once in a while, some of these cranks could actually read the scientific literature. There is nothing new about this proposal, and there is nothing non-mainstream about it. It has been known about, and proposed, for decades.
jonesdave
4 / 5 (12) Jan 09, 2017
@Reeve the repetitive,
E-fields, quasi-neutrality, debye screening, double layers, filamentation, plasma scaling ...

None of these important topics are EVER covered.

Yet, plasma is the DOMINANT state for matter in the OBSERVABLE universe. We've known it since 1958, when the first rocket was sent to space.


Total bollocks. You just don't acknowledge the work being done in those areas, because they consistently show that the EU rubbish is precisely that.
EU is producing nothing. Never has. Never will. Nobody sufficiently qualified in the relevant areas. Unless something has escaped my notice. In which case, point me to the paper.

jonesdave
3.9 / 5 (11) Jan 09, 2017
@Rossim,
It's not about the mainstream taking the "EU theory" seriously. ....................................................... They've already invented physics to cover the observations which contradict general relativity.


Lol. As opposed to the scientifically illiterate crap proposed by this poster, you mean:
https://forum.cos...st219011

Wonder who that was? Not. Even. Wrong.
Believe Thornhill's garbage, and you are capable of believing anything.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.6 / 5 (5) Jan 09, 2017
The ***proposed*** mechanism is in permanently shadowed regions. Therefore, for the hard of thinking, we would not see them (permanently shadowed being a clue)
Instead of punctuation junkies let's see what experts have to say about transient lunar phenomena...**^^

"Finally, electrostatic levitation of dust near the terminator could potentially give rise to some form of phenomenon visible from Earth." -see wiki
jonesdave
3.7 / 5 (9) Jan 09, 2017
The ***proposed*** mechanism is in permanently shadowed regions. Therefore, for the hard of thinking, we would not see them (permanently shadowed being a clue)
Instead of punctuation junkies let's see what experts have to say about transient lunar phenomena...**^^

"Finally, electrostatic levitation of dust near the terminator could potentially give rise to some form of phenomenon visible from Earth." -see wiki


Do not quote Wikipedia. If you've got something to say, give me a link to a paper. Then I'll read it and get back to you. Otherwise, a waste of pixels.
Captain Stumpy
4 / 5 (4) Jan 09, 2017
@yep your an idiot
how many years and how many posts did you deny this possibility and ridicule for it?
not once

and i will challenge you to show where i denied the possibility of solar storms causing sparks on the lunar surface at all

i have however, specifically stated that not all moon craters are made by your idiot spark theory because you can't provide empirical evidence

more importantly, i've stated that said spark crater would demonstrate certain things and leave evidence that can be traced or found supporting said spark crater formation, and that the probability that all moon craters being sparked into existence when we observe impacts is negligible

if you're going to argue a point you should actually research what has been said and to whom before looking like a complete jack*ss....

oh wait, you're a cult member: you're paid to proselytize, not actually think or follow evidence based science, because that directly refutes your beliefs

nevermind
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 09, 2017
Do not quote Wikipedia. If you've got something to say, give me a link to a paper. Then I'll read it and get back to you. Otherwise, a waste of pixels
Refs are provided for wiki content at the bottom of the articles. Many of them are indeed papers.

Go on. Dont be afraid. Click on a few. You can trust wiki links more than otto links.
cantdrive85
1.8 / 5 (5) Jan 09, 2017
And just in case anybody thinks that this is a "revolution" in scientific thinking, then think again:

Why am I not surprised with your continued obfuscation and ignoring the actual points. The revolution is regarding the discharge mechanism in plasmas. Nothing to do with the above.
Captain Stumpy
4.3 / 5 (6) Jan 09, 2017
@yep-still an idiot cont'd
Your authoritative impotence is staggering
what authority? i have no "authority" on PO at all
I can, however, prove that you're an idiot by simply providing your posting history and content, which displays a cognitive bias and failure to accept evidence over a belief in the eu bullsh*t
you are as dense as your imaginary neutron stars
there is far more probability for a neutron star existing than all those moon craters being formed by your eu discharge theory
... especially since we actually have measured, tracked and observed moon impacts
keep on defending the dogma
still don't care about dogma, only evidence
science still doesn't care what you believe - only what can be proven
remaining ignorant of science history
i know it better than you

including the fact that it was the evidence based science that always won out over the idiot claims from pseudoscience f*ckwads like the eu cult

proof over claims
means
eu=cult
Captain Stumpy
4.3 / 5 (6) Jan 09, 2017
@nazi sympathizing idiot eu cult proselytizer
The revolution is regarding the discharge mechanism in plasmas
no, it isn't
your claim is completely debunked by a quote from the article above
"This process isn't completely new to space science—electrostatic discharges can occur in any poorly conducting (dielectric) material exposed to intense space radiation, and is actually the leading cause of spacecraft anomalies," said Timothy Stubbs of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, a co-author of the paper
use this link: http://readingbear.org/

maybe it will help prevent you from repeatedly posting known blatantly false claims ...

that is, if you leave your cult and decide to actually learn how to do science and use the scientific method
jonesdave
3 / 5 (6) Jan 09, 2017
Do not quote Wikipedia. If you've got something to say, give me a link to a paper. Then I'll read it and get back to you. Otherwise, a waste of pixels
Refs are provided for wiki content at the bottom of the articles. Many of them are indeed papers.

Go on. Dont be afraid. Click on a few. You can trust wiki links more than otto links.


And we've been through this before. There is no paper available. It was cited once, a long time ago, in a Russian language paper. Ergo, I don't give it much credence.
If you'd like to build on the hypothesis, then feel free. As it stands, there is nothing to argue against.
jonesdave
3.7 / 5 (9) Jan 09, 2017
Why am I not surprised with your continued obfuscation and ignoring the actual points. The revolution is regarding the discharge mechanism in plasmas. Nothing to do with the above.


And where in that paper is there anything about discharge mechanisms in plasma? I've read it a couple of times. Nothing.
A layer in the near subsurface (~ 1mm) gets an accumulated charge. They then hypothesize that tiny discharges happen within the dielectric material,(i.e, the regolith). Not in a plasma. Unless you are now going to extend your definition of plasma to include lunar regolith? Wouldn't surprise me.
The charge is DUE to the plasma. The discharge is WITHIN the regolith. Same thing as has been known to happen to spacecraft for decades.

http://www.scienc.../pii/S00

Sorry, these are not the discharges you are looking for.
jonesdave
3.9 / 5 (7) Jan 09, 2017
@Cantthink,
If this paper is not the one you are referring to about a 'revolution' in thinking re discharges in plasma (which it quite obviously isn't), then perhaps you could save us all wondering, and link to the one that you think is doing this. Because I fail to see what you and Reeve are going on about here.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (4) Jan 09, 2017
And we've been through this before. There is no paper available. It was cited once, a long time ago, in a Russian language paper. Ergo, I don't give it much credence
I do remember. You said your intuition didn't like it or some such bullshit. And I think I followed up with another value source which as I recall you didn't choose to respond to.

I think we're done playing that game.

The wiki article mentions other possible electrostatic phenomena which could possibly be seen from earth. Doesn't matter if you disintuit those either.
jonesdave
3 / 5 (6) Jan 09, 2017
And we've been through this before. There is no paper available. It was cited once, a long time ago, in a Russian language paper. Ergo, I don't give it much credence
I do remember. You said your intuition didn't like it or some such bullshit. And I think I followed up with another value source which as I recall you didn't choose to respond to.

I think we're done playing that game.

The wiki article mentions other possible electrostatic phenomena which could possibly be seen from earth. Doesn't matter if you disintuit those either.


No, I gave you a link to a paper that looked at the most likely reason for the TLP phenomena, which concluded that they were, from memory, impacts, or possibly reflections. I can't be arsed looking it all up again now. If wikipedia is all you've got, then it isn't worth the effort of going through a shed load of papers on stuff that is very likely out of date, or little more than conjecture. And isn't related to this thread.
cantdrive85
2 / 5 (4) Jan 10, 2017
@Cantthink,
If this paper is not the one you are referring to about a 'revolution' in thinking re discharges in plasma (which it quite obviously isn't), then perhaps you could save us all wondering, and link to the one that you think is doing this. Because I fail to see what you and Reeve are going on about here.

The link is posted in the thread above, it is about the eigthth time you have "conveniently" "missed" it.
Captain Stumpy
4.3 / 5 (6) Jan 10, 2017
@nazi sympathizer eu cult fanatic conspiracy theorist troll
The link is posted in the thread above
you've only posted two links in your 5 posts on this thread: both were to PO articles, not studies

of those articles, one uses the term "revolutionary" in the title

considering this is simply the way people who are illiterate in science are hooked to pay attention, then i would suggest you start learning how to read as well as perhaps study plasma physics from an actual university rather than a cult

the most revolutionary part of your *article*:
This means that, counterintuitively, the most energetic solar storms are likely to provide a net cooling and shrinking effect on the upper atmosphere, rather than heating and expanding it as had been previously understood
IOW - science works & they just demonstrated it

.

i noticed that your cult made absolutely no predictions about this in their model...

oh wait! you don't have a model that can make predictions!
jonesdave
3.7 / 5 (9) Jan 10, 2017
@Captain,
https://phys.org/...ace.html

Isn't it funny how the EU cult members suddenly implicitly trust 'mainstream' scientists when they propose something like this, and yet totally ignore them when decades of observation and lab experiment by 'mainstream' scientists prove that Alfven's "reconnection can't happen" statement was totally wrong!!!
Or fail to take any notice of them when they point out that their idiotic ideas on such things as electric comets, electric stars etc, are impossible pseudoscientific nonsense!
When mainstream is saying that your core beliefs are bollocks, it is hardly a 'revolution.'

In addition to which, the discharge happening between the ionosphere and magnetosphere is INDUCED by the solar storms, NOT WITHIN the storms. Nothing new about 'lightning' in the ionosphere-magnetosphere region. Only this new cause of it. Like you say, where was this predicted by EU geniuses?
jonesdave
3.5 / 5 (8) Jan 10, 2017
Further to the above:

" A conclusion is that capacitive coupling may provide tighter coupling between the lower atmosphere and the ionosphere than usually considered, in both directions, which may help to explain observations which seem to indicate that ***magnetospheric phenomena may in some instances trigger lightning***."

So, nothing new about lightning happening up there, only the reason for some of it. Discovered due to having the probes up there capable of seeing what was happening.

http://www.nature...4a0.html (1987)
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (1) Jan 12, 2017
Isn't it funny how jonesdumb will continuously obfuscate, misdirect, and claim this was already known and incorporated into the "mainstream" theory, contrary to the facts. First, the claim of a "revolution" is not mine but the author of the article. And that "revolution" is proposing just exactly what Alfvén had been suggesting for decades now;
"The energy transfer process turns out to be very similar to the way lightning forms...the solar wind striking the magnetosphere can build up a voltage difference between different regions of the ionosphere and the magnetosphere. Electric currents can form between these regions, creating the conducting pathway needed for that built-up electric energy to discharge into the ionosphere as a kind of lightning.

This is how enegy tranfer occurs in lab plasmas, and how energy transfer occurs in near earth plasmas where we have had the proper measuring devices. This is likely true for all plasmas, including at comet comas.
Captain Stumpy
3 / 5 (2) Jan 13, 2017
@nazi sympathizer eu cult fanatic conspiracy theorist troll
First, the claim of a "revolution" is not mine but the author of the article
and like i've tried to tell you a thousand times - an article is not the same thing as an actual study or the science in the study

Isn't it funny how the nazi-sympathizing eu cult troll will continuously obfuscate, misdirect, and claim this was already known by his cult, contrary to the facts?
And that "revolution" is proposing just exactly what Alfvén had been suggesting
really?
show me where alfven stated "the most energetic solar storms are likely to provide a net cooling and shrinking effect on the upper atmosphere"

by all means, show the facts and link where this can be verified - and not to your stupid eu cult site, but to a reputable source and journal

bet you $50 you can't do it...

cantdrive85
Jan 14, 2017
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