NASA announced on Tuesday that an unknown water source exists deep beneath the Moon’s surface. That’s what data from its Mineralogy Mapper, or M3, indicates. The data, according to NASA, points to there being “water locked in mineral grains on the surface of the moon from an unknown source deep beneath the surface.”
Hasn’t M3 already discovered water on the moon?
Back in 2009, water molecules were discovered in the polar regions of the moon, also thanks to M3, so water has already been discovered on the moon’s surface. However, it’s in the form of a thin layer of ice created by solar wind hitting the lunar surface.
If the Bullialdus crater where the surface ice was discovered in a region of the moon where the solar winds were more favorable, there would perhaps be greater amounts of water on the moon’s surface than there are.
However, the new water that NASA found is considered to be important in that it is not surface water, but is, instead, water that was trapped beneath the moon’s surface, water that comes from a source that’s located somewhere deep underneath the moon’s surface.
Could the moon’s magmatic water have come from a comet?
According to an interview with Rachel Klima, a planetary geologist from John Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, which appeared in Discovery News:
I don’t think this was cometary water 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.”
Rachel Klima and her team of researchers believe that the rocks which are on the surface of the lunar landscape “were excavated from depth by the impact that formed Bullialdus crater.”
The rocks contain “hydroxyls” which originated below the moon’s surface. Klima and the other researchers realized that the rocks with the hydroxyls in them must have come from deep below the surface of the moon, so the magmatic water must also come from below the moon’s surface.
According to Klima:
Now that we have detected water that is likely from the interior of the moon, we can start to compare this water with other characteristics of the lunar surface.”
Scientists have long known that the volcanoes on the moon were once active, but now, according to a written statement which NASA, the funders of the research, released, “This internal magmatic water also provides clues about the moon’s volcanic processes and internal composition, which helps us address questions about how the moon formed, and how magmatic processes changed as it cooled.”
The source of the water deep inside the moon is as yet unknown. But, NASA’s admission that the moon has water below its surface has made some scientists wonder where else water might be found. Perhaps, water is not as much of a rarity as researchers once thought, and perhaps life, itself, is also on other planets.
Written by: Douglas Cobb