Water on the Moon

Looking up at the Moon from our blue planet Earth, it’s hard to see anything other than a barren landscape.  Devoid of any life, it’s a visual study in dusty shades of gray.

But recently scientists from Case Western Reserve University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, and Brown University have found that parts of the Moon’s interior contains as much water as the upper mantle of the Earth, more than 100 times what was measured before.

Examining moon material brought back to earth back in 1972 by the US Apollo 17mission, the researchers were able to find water along with other volatile elements such as fluorine, chlorine and sulfur.

One of the scientists involved with this discovery is James Van Orman, a professor of geological studies at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio.  “These samples provide the best window we have to the amount of water in the interior of the Moon,” says Van Orman.  “The interior seems to be pretty similar to the interior of the Earth, from what we know about water abundance.”

This discovery seems to strengthen the theory that the Moon and Earth have a common origin but at the same time may force scientists to reconsider the current theory of the process: that a huge impact in Earth’s early history ejected material into orbit that became the Moon.

Published in the May 26 edition of Science Express, this finding is said to challenge previously made assumptions on how the Moon came to be and provides new clues into the process of lunar formation.


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