A recently published NASA-funded research in Icarus says that powerful solar storms can spark soils at the moon’s poles.
Moon has no atmosphere. Hence its surface is exposed the harshness of the space environment. The top-most layer of the moon, comprising of rock and dust, is called regolith. Impacts from small meteoroids can constantly churn the regolith. They found that approximately 10% of this churned layer has been melted or vaporized from this impact.
Explosive solar activities blast very energetic electrically charged particles into space. These particles which comprise of electrons and ions directly slam into the moon’s surface, and assemble in two layers. The bulky ions accumulate as a layer on the surface while the tiny electrons seep-in to form a deeper layer. The electrons are negatively charged while the ions carry positive charge. Because of their opposite charges, they neutralize.
But strong solar storms could allow these two layers in the regolith of the moon’s permanently shadowed regions to be accumulated until they are released explosively. The research analyzes the extent that this process can modify the regolith. This could help us better understand the history of the solar system and moon.