A new study published in Nature Geoscience by the researchers from Brown University suggests that the interior of the moon could contain a significant volume of water. By studying the volcanic deposits on the moon, scientists have concluded that it’s an indication of what exactly is beneath the surface.
Volcanic Explosions Linked to Underground Water Deposits
The scientists from Brown University used satellite data to observe lunar pyroclastic deposits. Essentially, these are layers of rock resulted from volcanic explosions. The magma these explosions generated comes from deep within the moon’s interior. Researchers have detected pockets of water trapped in these deposits by isolating the reflection of the sunlight from the thermal energy emitted by the moon’s surface using India’s Chandrayaan probe.
Lead researcher, Ralph Milliken stated:
Different minerals and compounds will absorb and reflect light in different ways, so in our case we looked at wavelengths where [the molecules] H2O and OH absorb light … We found that there were larger absorptions, or less reflected sunlight, at these wavelengths for pyroclastic deposits, which indicates they contain OH or H2O.
Milliken added that this strongly points towards the existence of water deep beneath the surface.
How Did It Get There?
Milliken suggests that the water found in the magma deposits might be the result of hydrogen being carried by solar winds during the moon’s formation. As the study shows, nearly all pyroclastic deposits contain water. As this seems to be a common characteristic, Milliken is confident that the moon’s mantle could be wet.
Since now, it was commonly known that the event that generated the moon was too hot for water to remain. Given the newly found evidence, Milliken considers that another possibility might be that during the event, asteroids carrying water impacted the moon. However, nothing is yet certain.
For now, scientists aim to map the pyroclastic deposits in greater detail, which might help future lunar missions.
Image source: Pixabay.