Moon Water Discovery Could Illuminate Earth’s Origins

July 10, 2008 05:03 PM
by Cara McDonough
A research team has discovered evidence of water that came from deep within the moon, contained in lunar volcanic glass.

30-Second Summary

The finding suggests that water has been trapped within the moon since its early existence, and possibly since its creation about 4.5 billion years ago, reports Science Daily.

Since NASA’s Apollo missions in the late 1960s and early 1970s returned lunar volcanic glass to Earth, scientists have attempted to determine what, exactly, was in the pebble-like beads, and were particularly interested in discovering signs of water.

They didn’t figure it out until now, however.

In a paper published this month in the journal Nature, a team from Brown University said they believe the water was contained in magma that erupted from volcanoes on the moon more than 3 billion years ago.

“What is important for me is it’s telling me something about the origin of the moon and the Earth and the presence of water at very early times,” said Alberto Saal, who led the study.

NASA plans to send its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter later this year to search for water at the moon’s south pole.

The finding may draw the spotlight away from Mars, at least temporarily. The Red Planet has been the center of attention since a lander that arrived on Mars in May found soil there teeming with mineral nutrients necessary for plant growth, renewing a discussion regarding the possibility of alien life.

Although the moon discovery does not have researchers talking aliens, it could provide valuable scientific information, including insight into how long water has been on Earth.

Headline Links: Researchers discover signs of water on the moon

Related Topics: The search for extraterrestrial life

Historical Context: The Apollo missions take man to the moon

Reference: Lunar science and astronomy


Most Recent Beyond The Headlines