Recent testing of ancient moon rock collected by astronauts in the 70s has found evidence of water. Scientists have been applying new and more powerful techniques on the volcanic glass ‘pebbles’, which were unavailable back when we were popping back forth to our orbiting neighbour.
These findings challenge long-held beliefs that the moon is completely dry and that in turn throws doubt on a theory that the moon was formed when Earth had a bit of a misunderstanding with a passing proto-planet.
Scientists found trace amounts of hydrogen, as well as chlorine and fluorine, inside the ‘pebble’. No idea why scientists insist on referring to them as ‘pebbles’ though because they are actually only about this big:
Sneezing must be a very serious faux pas in those labs.
The discovery of hydrogen indicates that water has originated from within the moon, reaching the surface through volcanic eruptions over 3 billion years ago. If the moon had formed from bits of Earth following a collision, then scientists reckon all traces of water would have been vaporized.
This now begs the question of whether there is water still existing elsewhere on the moon’s surface. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter launching later in the year will have a look for surface water as part of its mission. It is possible that it could be hidden in permanently shadowed areas near the poles. And if they find it? Well, we could be just years away from a full blown lunar leisure parks and even moon flumes! (Yes, I had been thinking that up all morning. I’m sorry.)
(via LA Times)