Scientists find new evidence of water below Moon’s surface


A new study by scientists at Brown University, US, has revealed that the Moon's interior may be holding a high amount of water.

Based on satellite data, the study has also found that water could be stored in numerous volcanic deposits distributed across the surface of the Moon.

The deposits are believed to consist of glass beads formed by the explosive eruption of magma coming from the deep lunar interior and reinforce the idea that the lunar mantle is a water-rich zone.

In 2008, a research team detected traces of water in some of the volcanic glass beads brought back to Earth from the Apollo 15 and 17 missions to the Moon.

"We can examine the large pyroclastic deposits on the Moon that were never sampled by the Apollo or Luna missions."

Further study of tiny crystalline formations within these beads found that they actually contain similar amounts of water as some basalts on Earth.

Brown University department of earth, environmental and planetary sciences associate professor and lead study author Ralph Milliken said: “The key question is whether those Apollo samples represent the bulk conditions of the lunar interior or instead represent unusual or perhaps anomalous water-rich regions within an otherwise ‘dry’ mantle.

“By looking at the orbital data, we can examine the large pyroclastic deposits on the Moon that were never sampled by the Apollo or Luna missions.

“The fact that nearly all of them exhibit signatures of water suggests that the Apollo samples are not anomalous, so it may be that the bulk interior of the Moon is wet.”

Funded by Nasa’s Lunar Advanced Science and Exploration Research Programme, the research also noted that the volcanic beads on the Moon’s surface do not contain a lot of water, approximately 0.05% by weight, but the deposits are large and the water could potentially be extracted.


Image: Coloured areas indicate elevated water content compared with surrounding terrains. Yellows and reds indicate the richest water content. Photo: courtesy of Milliken lab / Brown University.