Another unprecedented discovery has been made by scientists. According to a new study published in science advanced, experts say that in the past liquid water existed on the surface of the moon, and it exists now beneath the surface.
And while scientists didn’t go to the moon to make the discovery, they turned to a lunar meteorite that was discovered in Africa some 13 years ago.
As it turns out, this lunar meteorite contains a mineral that can ONLY form in the presence of water, meaning that there’s probably abundant water beneath the surface of the moon.
The study published in Science Advances explains how researchers uncovered traces of moganite in the lunar meteorite.
The discovery was made by a team of Japanese scientists led by Masahiro Kayama from the Department of Earth and Planetary Materials Science at Tohoku University.
“For the first time, we can prove that there is water ice in the lunar material,” said Kayama in an interview with Space.com.
“In a moganite, there is less water, because of moganite forms from the evaporation of water. That’s the case on the surface of the moon. But in the subsurface, much water remains as ice, because it’s protected from the sunlight.”
As they have explained, moganite forms in the presence of water, which indicates there could be abundant reservoirs of water on the moon’s surface.
Itz is noteworthy to mention that the lunar meteorite, dubbed NWA2727 is the only lunar meteorite in which moganite was found by the researchers.
As for the water on the moon, astronomers argue that it may have been ‘transported0 to the moon through asteroids and comets through billions of years of impacts.
Experts note that during this period, liquid water most likely existed on the lunar surface. Eventually, it became trapped after being soaked into the surface of the moon where it cooled down. Then, another asteroid or comet impacted the moon, sending water-soaked rocks into space, and Earth.
Scientists say that the moganite did not originate on Earth because of terrestrial weathering.
Furthermore, the meteorite was discovered in Africa, in a desert which lacks water.
Now, in order to understand exactly how much water there is beneath the lunar surface, future moon missions need to be launched.
In an interview with Gizmodo, lunar geologist Noah Petro says that lunar rock samples brought back to Earth by the Apollo missions should be studied using new techniques to look for the presence of moganite.
Petro says that the discovery of moganite on the lunar meteorite shows that scientists still have a limited understanding about the surface of the moon.
In the past, lunar missions found evidence of water on the moon.
The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite detected water in a shadowed crater near the moon’s south pole.
And India’s probe Chandrayaan-1 found evidence of water in the moon’s thin atmosphere.
However, Kayama argues that there’s still no evidence of water in the subsurface at mid and lower latitudes.
“Many people think that remote-sensing spacecraft only found the evidence of water around the poles simply because we can’t see under the surface below a few millimeters,” Kayama said. “This is the first insight into the water in the subsurface zone.”