Does the Moon Have an Atmosphere?


Quick Answer

According to NASA, the moon does have an atmosphere. Although the moon’s atmosphere is minimal in comparison to Earth’s – less than 1 million molecules in 1 cubic centimeter of moon air versus 10 quintillion molecules in 1 cubic centimeter of Earth air – it's still measurable.

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Full Answer

As of 2014, scientists are not entirely certain of the composition of the moon's atmosphere. NASA researchers began to glean insight into its composition in 1972 during the Apollo 17 mission, when astronauts deployed the Lunar Atmospheric Composition Experiment. In addition to confirmed detections of helium and argon, LACE may also have detected neon, ammonia, methane and carbon dioxide in comparatively smaller amounts in the moon’s atmosphere. Ground-based instruments have also detected sodium and potassium in the moon’s atmosphere.

More recently, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter detected hydrogen, helium, argon, oxygen, methane, nitrogen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and other trace elements.

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