Strange substance discovered on Moon is mysteriously reflective and magnetic, leaving scientists baffled


SCIENTISTS have stumbled upon a peculiar type of moon dust with unusual properties.

The dust boulders feature magnetic and reflective properties and were found in the Reiner Gamma swirl.


Scientists have stumbled upon a peculiar type of moon dustCredit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University
The dust contains magnetic and reflective properties


The dust contains magnetic and reflective propertiesCredit: NASA LRO/NAC/Rüsch et al., JGR Planets, 2024

This area consists of a dark and reflective patch on the Moon’s surface.

One theory behind the formation of lunar swirls like Reiner Gamma is that they’re produced by magnetized rock.

Another theory is that they formed due to the interaction between magnetic particles and electrically charged fine dust particles.

It’s also possible the swirls and magnetic fields were formed by materials from comet impacts.

All of these theories could explain the newfound dust’s strange magnetic properties.

Scientists came across the strange findings while looking through one million images of rocks taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

And they found something interesting in the Reiner K crater, which is located near the Reiner Gamma swirl.

One dust-covered boulder was reflecting light in a way they had not previously observed.

“We recognized a boulder with distinctive dark areas on just one image,” Ottaviano Rüsch, a planetary scientist at the University of Münster in Germany, who led the latest study said.

“This rock was very different from all the others, as it scatters less light back towards the sun than other rocks.”

This prompted the researchers to try to identify more dust-covered boulders using AI.

Scientists managed to locate roughly 130,000 potential boulders with similar reflective properties.

So far, the researchers have analyzed around half of the newly uncovered boulders.

Scientists believe this discovery and new investigations could shed light on the Moon’s magnetic history.

The team says their next step is to look deeply at their findings and figure out how lunar swirls form.

Future research endeavors could also potentially include sample collection from the Moon.

Nasa in partnership with the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory is also hoping to send a lunar lander to Reiner Gamma later this year.

The findings have been published in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Planets.