Future moon explorers will have more to reckon with more than dust and frigid temperatures -- the moon's poles may be electrified.
Analysis shows potentially hazardous electrical fields exist in the moon's polar regions.
The phenomenon may be responsible for levitating dust from the moon's surface.
The finding is applicable to other small, air-less bodies, like asteroids.
Future settlers may one day tap recently discovered water deposits lining the floors of lunar craters, but be warned: traveling through the pits may result in nasty electrical shocks.
That's because crater walls effectively block plasma streaming from the sun, leaving little electrically charged matter to cancel out static buildup from a rover on the move, an astronaut walking, or any other activity that generates friction.
"The last thing you want to do is drive a rover wheel and have it charging up and then have an astronaut walking by and have it discharge," Bill Farrell, a plasma physicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., told Discovery News.