In the awful TV series Space 1999, there was an episode [The Last Sunset from Season One —Travers] where a probe lands on the moon and makes an Earth like atmosphere.Fair enough. But there is a scene, where Commander Koenig opens a window to breathe in the fresh air.Really, Moonbase Alpha, purpose built on the moon where there is no air, but manufactured with opening windows (just in case).
Ouch! Good one, except that according to one of the episode guides, there were omitted scenes that would have explained the opening windows were specially added after the atmosphere was created, and a poignant scene where Koenig orders the openable windows replaced. Which makes it sound like they knew what they were doing except: The Moon doesn’t have enough enough gravity to hold an atmosphere. That’s why it was airless in the first place.
The Moon’s low gravity plus it’s lack of protection from the solar wind means that any gases that didn’t evaporate away from the Moon would have been blown away by the solar wind. On Earth, we have the Van Allen radiation belts (courtesy of our Earth’s magnetic field) to protect us from the solar wind. The Moon, having virtually no magnetic field, can’t protect its surface from the high energy particles from the Sun which would give the heavier gases (like oxygen) the kick it needs to escape from the Moon’s gravitational pull.
But maybe the probes provided some sort of atmosphere protection? Either way, it’s definitely silly. 🙂
- “Why doesn’t the Moon have an atmosphere like the Earth?” from madsci.org