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The Moon’s atmosphere is buzzing just like…neon.

Artist’s concept of NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft in orbit above the moon. Credit: NASA Ames / Dana Berry

Artist’s concept of NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft in orbit above the moon. Credit: NASA Ames / Dana Berry

Data analysis from the former NASA spacecraft, the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) has confirmed the existence of neon as part of the Moon’s atmosphere. The presence of neon has been a subject of speculation since the Apollo missions but no credible detections were made then. Most of the moon’s exosphere (called that since the atmosphere there is very thin) is comprised of materials collected from the solar wind. Analysts have also found the presence of helium and argon the level of which varies depending on the time of day.

Additionally, some of the gas is added by the break down of radioactive potassium-40 into argon-40. Some of the argon increased and decreased by has much as 25% during the course of the mission and there is early speculation linking it the tidal pulls from the Earth.

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