Humanity has altered the geological era of the Moon

A Moononce a distant and untouched place, has been transformed by human activity, according to researchers at the University of Kansas.

Such profound change has led to the suggestion that we have entered a new geological era, called the Lunar Anthropocene.

This phase marks humanity’s significant influence on the natural satellite, an idea parallel to the Anthropocene on Earth.

Understand the Lunar Anthropocene

The concept is based on the history of lunar exploration. Since the first landing of the USSR’s Luna 2 spacecraft in 1959, more than one hundred missions have visited the star.

Such missions, successful or not, piloted or automatic, impacted the lunar surface in different ways.

Justin Holcomb, lead author of the study and researcher at the University of Kansas, highlights the importance of recognizing these interferences before they become irreparable.

First manned landing on the Moon took place in 1969 – Image: Mathieu van den Berk/Reproduction

The changes caused by human activities on the Moon are diverse and significant. Rovers and landers change the texture of the lunar regolith, which is very different from natural processes such as meteorite impacts.

Furthermore, many wastes from missions human remains on the satellite, including spacecraft components, trash bags, scientific equipment, flags and even golf balls.

Researchers warn that, despite having no atmosphere or magnetosphere, the Moon has a delicate exosphere and icy areas that can be affected by human activities. They also highlight the importance of minimizing negative impacts on future lunar missions.

An interesting aspect highlighted by researchers is the importance of lunar sites with historical and anthropological value. Currently, such spots have no legal or policy protections against disturbance.

The concept of the Lunar Anthropocene aims to increase awareness and contemplation about our impact on the lunar surface, as well as our influence on the preservation of historical artifacts.

Therefore, the Lunar Anthropocene represents a critical awareness of the role of humanity in the solar system and the need for careful planning to preserve both the lunar environment and the historical heritage it houses​​​​​.

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