Dust Cloud Around the Moon Explained (Infographic)

Details of the dust cloud found circling the moon.
A permanent cloud of dust has been found hovering around the moon, caused by the impacts of tiny particles from deep space. (Image credit: By Karl Tate, Infographics Artist)

Researchers studying data from the LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) spacecraft have discovered that the airless moon is surrounded by a thin, asymmetrical dust cloud caused by the high-speed impacts of dust particles from comets.

Full Story: The Moon's Puzzling Dust Cloud Finally Yields an Answer

The lunar cloud's density increases during annual meteor showers. Dust density peaks in the direction of the moon's orbital motion.

Apollo astronauts reported a "horizon glow" around the moon, but the new dust discovery is not dense enough and is too close to the surface to explain those observations.

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Karl Tate
Space.com contributor

Karl's association with Space.com goes back to 2000, when he was hired to produce interactive Flash graphics. From 2010 to 2016, Karl worked as an infographics specialist across all editorial properties of Purch (formerly known as TechMediaNetwork).  Before joining Space.com, Karl spent 11 years at the New York headquarters of The Associated Press, creating news graphics for use around the world in newspapers and on the web.  He has a degree in graphic design from Louisiana State University and now works as a freelance graphic designer in New York City.