Moon’s interior may contain water: Study

Moon’s interior may contain water: Study

A new study of ancient volcanic deposits on the Moon has suggested that earth’s only natural satellite might be containing substantial amounts of water deep under its surface.

A team of researchers from Brown University examined lunar pyroclastic deposits using satellite data. Pyroclastic deposits are layers of rock formed from massive volcanic eruptions. Magma associated with these explosive events came from very deep within the Moon’s interior.

Geologist Ralph Milliken said, “We observe the water in deposits that are at the surface today, but these deposits are the result of magma that originally comes from deep within the lunar interior. Therefore, because the products of the magma have water, the deep interior of the moon must also contain water.”

The researchers reached the conclusion after analyzing satellite data from Indian lunar probe Chandrayaan-1’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper instrument, which measures reflected sunshine at near-infrared as well as visible wavelengths.

The findings of the new study published in the most recent edition (July 24th) of the journal Nature Geoscience.

The research paper further informed...

Additional analysis of satellite images lead scientists to now believe there is a large amount of water under the moon’s surface. The research was funded by NASA and published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

“The key question is whether those Apollo samples represent the bulk conditions of the lunar interior or instead represent unusual or perhaps anomalous water-rich regions within an otherwise 'dry' mantle [geological layer between the surface and core]," lead author Ralph Milliken of Brown said in a statement.

By looking at orbital data and precisely measuring how light reflected off the moon’s varying surfaces, the researchers found many volcanic deposits included evidence of water down below.

"The distribution of these water-rich deposits is the key thing," Milliken added. "They're spread across the surface, which tells us that the water found in the Apollo samples isn't a one-off.

If water exists on the moon, scientists will likely have to rethink theories regarding the moon’s formation.

Most astronomers believe the moon formed after a massive planet-sized asteroid collided with Earth and sheared off a giant piece of rock. That collision would likely be so hot all that all hydrogen, the element necessary for water, could not have survived.