Moon Water On Lunar Surface May Have Come From Under Its Crust [STUDY]
Scientists have found evidence of magmatic water on the surface of the moon, according to a NASA-funded study published in Nature Geoscience. Scientists believe that the magmatic water -- water that comes from far inside of the moon -- may be as old as the moon itself. (That's 4.5 billion years, but who's counting?)
Like Us on Facebook
"I think it would be very tough to have this water be anywhere other than original to the material that formed the moon," said study lead author Rachel Klima of Johns Hopkins University. "I don't think this was [water from comets] that was somehow mixed in and excavated back out, or solar wind water. I think this had to be water that was initially there when the materials forming the moon accreted, and what we found supports that idea."
The magmatic water was detected in the moon's Bullialdus crater by the Moon Mineralogy Mapper, or M3. Launched by NASA in 2008, M3 first discovered evidence of water on the moon a year later. The thin layer of water that M3 found in 2009 was thought to be formed by solar wind hitting the lunar surface. But the Bullialdus crater water was not likely to have been formed by solar wind, according to NASA, because the region has an "unfavorable environment for solar wind to produce significant amounts of water on the surface."
The evidence for the existence of water came from hydroxyl molecules, a pairing of an oxygen atom and a hydrogen atom. Hydroxyl molecules can form from solar wind, like the case from 2009, but in this case, there were no hydroxyls surrounding the lunar soil around Bullialdus crater. Because of that, and because this is an area where water is unlikely to form due to solar wind, Klima and her team think that the hydroxyls came from within the moon.
"It was only in the center of the crater where the rocks from the deepest part of that area had been brought up to the surface, that we saw this hydroxyl signature," said Klima.
Klima thinks the hydroxyl found in Bullialdus crater may have come from as much as 42 miles below the surface, and was brought up to the surface by a series of impacts.
© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.