While the Apollo missions little in suggesting there was any water on the surface of the moon, in the ten or so years scientists while study lunar samples from the same missions now believe that there is quite a bit of water in the interior of the Earth’s satellite.
How did water arrive to the moon?
While there are a few scientists that believe that the moon may have had water that could be as much as hundreds of parts per million in its interior, they are in the minority with most believing that it was brought to the moon by comets and satellites with a new study now claiming that there is surely where the water came from about 4.3 to 4.5 billion years ago.
While the Earth’s history is rife with mysteries given its constant changing “shape” largely owing to pate tectonics. This is not the case with the moon which hasn’t changed much since is formation about 4.5 billion years ago which came just after the Earth’s own formation. It’s for this reason that scientists hope to study the moon to learn more about Earth.
The study published yesterday in the journal Nature Communications and the authors seem quite convinced that they have proven that water arrived from asteroids when the moon was still comprised of molten magma.
Asteroids not comets?
While comets were often viewed as the likely source of water because they are primarily made of ice, a recent study of the Rosetta orbiter’s analysis of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko shows the comet has the wrong molecular makeup leaving asteroids more likely.
“We believe that asteroids delivered the majority of water to the moon and comets delivered very little — they weren’t major players in the first few hundred million years of inner solar system history,” co-author Jessica Barnes, a planetary scientist at the Open University, told the Guardian.
Asteroids have quite a bit of hydrogen along with modified hydrogen or deuterium as well. Comets have a higher ratio of deuterium than hydrogen, so the scientists are now saying “definitely asteroids.”
The authors of the study believe that just after the moon’s formation, again between 4.3 and 4.5 year ago, the moon was showered by comets and asteroids but primarily asteroids and the cocks became trapped in the magma interior trapping the water when the moon cooled.
It’s largely believed that the Earth got its water from asteroids and the moon and Earth were much closer 4.3 billion years ago than they are today.
“At some level that makes perfect sense,” co-author David Kring, senior scientist at the Center for Lunar Science and Exploration at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, told the Christian Science Monitor. “The asteroid belt is closer to the Earth and the moon than comets, so it’s a more proximal source.”
At the end of the day, further study is still needed and undertaken by both manned and unmanned missions that will have access to much more technology and specialty equipment than the Apollo astronauts had at their disposal.