Following a change in the internal structure of the moon, scientists have posited in a recent report that the moon shifted on its axis causing large amounts of water ice to melt as they were exposed to the light of the sun. While that ice is gone, other lunar regions became shadowed following the shift and might very well still hold water ice deposits in craters that haven’t seen sunlight since the shift.
Radioactive materials affected moon’s mantle?
In a report published in the journal Nature, scientists believe that they have a reasonable understanding of why water is where it is on the moon following a shift in the rotation of the moon, which was likely formed following the collision between Earth and another planet about 4.5 billion years ago.
Researchers believe that they have finally solved the moon’s water distribution mystery after noticing that the moon’s polar ice was moved away from the poles by the same distance, but in the opposite directions. By tracking the remaining old ice that was kept from the heat of the sun and likely still exists in the shadows, has led scientists to conclude that in internal confusion of the moon caused it to shift on its axis by about six degrees.
Those areas in shadows and not touch by the sun are some of the coldest areas in all of our solar system with temperatures staying below -200 degrees Celsius. At those temperatures, any water ice there could be billions of years old and still there.
The modelling used by the scientists postulates that the Procellarum region contains enough radioactive material that it could have effectively “melted” (at least heated by a lot) part of the lunar mantle causing a change in the moon’s density sufficiently to tip it over, changing its rotation.
That melting would also have seen those molten bits of moon, then come to the surface to to form the dark patches of the moon (“The Man in the Moon”) that scientists call mare. This is the same region were rocks (volcanic) were collected by a number of the Apollo missions. After testing, these volcanic rocks brought back to Earth showed themselves to be somewhere between 3 and 4 billion years old.
History of water on Earth and the moon
It’s quite likely that water on both the Earth and the moon came to be as a result of an asteroid or comet. While this is not a proven fact, the collision with Earth and another object that created the moon would likely have been sufficiently violent to strip the Earth of any existing water.
Studies over the last half-decade show an isotopic similarity between water in lunar rocks and the water on Earth leading scientists to go back to the idea of a comet or asteroid(s) being responsible.
Due to tectonic shifting on Earth, tracing the origin of the Earth’s water supply has been difficult, essentially the new study is saying, “our findings won’t help much with the history of water on Earth.”
However, finding water ice deposits on our satellite would make it easier in the event of human colonization. Better the moon has water than having to bring it from Earth. A steady water supply would allow for little things like breathing and drinking.