Human Activities Setting the Moon Into A New Geological Epoch Path 

In Education

Scientists propose that the Moon is entering a new geological epoch due to significant human-induced changes in its environment, signaling a potential turning point in lunar history.

Human activities impacting the moon’s environment   

Human presence on the Moon has expanded considerably since Luna 2, the Soviet Union’s unmanned spacecraft, made its mark in 1959. With over 100 spacecraft, both manned and unmanned, having landed on the lunar surface, the Moon’s environment has been altered in numerous ways. The Apollo Lunar Modules, in particular, hold great significance as they facilitated the transportation of humans to the Moon, leaving an enduring impact on history.

Anthropologists and geologists from the University of Kansas are advocating for the recognition of human influence on the Moon’s environment through the establishment of a new geological epoch called the Lunar Anthropocene. Lunar Anthropocene could be traced back to 1959 when Luna 2 made its historic landing, signifying the beginning of human dominance in shaping the lunar landscape.

According to Justin Holcomb, lead author and postdoctoral researcher at the Kansas Geological Survey, the concept of the Lunar Anthropocene mirrors the discussion of the Anthropocene on Earth, which examines the impact of human activity on our planet. Just as there is consensus that the Anthropocene began at some point in the past on Earth, the researchers argue that the Lunar Anthropocene has already begun on the Moon. However, they emphasize the need to prevent significant damage or delay in recognizing this epoch until there is measurable evidence of a lunar halo caused by human activities.

Cultural processes on the moon surpassing geological processes

Holcomb stated that cultural processes, such as moving sediments (regolith), are surpassing the natural geological processes on the Moon. The presence of rovers, landers, and human movement significantly disturbs the regolith, leading to a completely different lunar landscape in the next 50 years.

Researchers highlight non-compliance with “Leave No Trace” principles on the Moon, citing abandoned spacecraft parts, human waste, scientific tools, flags, and mission remnants. They stress potential harm to the lunar exosphere and call for minimizing negative impacts through responsible practices in future lunar missions.

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