WASHINGTON, June 15 (UPI) — A NASA-funded study suggests previous research might have underestimated the amount of water that’s locked beneath the moon’s surface.
Scientists led by the Carnegie Institution’s Geophysical Laboratory in Washington now estimate the volume of water molecules locked inside minerals in the moon’s interior could exceed the amount of water in the Great Lakes.
The finding, NASA said, suggests water is native to the moon.
“For over 40 years we thought the moon was dry,” said Francis McCubbin of Carnegie, lead author of the research. “In our study we looked at hydroxyl, a compound with an oxygen atom bound with hydrogen, and apatite, a water-bearing mineral in the assemblage of minerals we examined in two Apollo samples and a lunar meteorite.”
McCubbin’s team found that the minimum water content ranged from 64 parts per billion to 5 parts per million. That, the scientists said, is at least two orders of magnitude greater than previous results from lunar samples that estimated water content of the moon to be less than 1 part per billion.
The scientists said identification of water from multiple types of lunar rocks indicates water may be at low concentrations, but ubiquitous within the moon’s interior, potentially as early as the time of lunar formation and magma ocean crystallization.
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