The moon has water molecules and ice, but do we know how to get this out from the moon? Some of this water may have come from the collisions of asteroids and comets, but there is another source of water on the Moon, the Earth’s atmosphere, according to new research.
How Did Water Formed On the Moon?
When hydrogen and oxygen ions from our planet’s upper atmosphere combine on the moon, scientists say they could create up to 3,500 cubic kilometers (840 cubic miles) of permafrost or subsurface liquid water.
Hydrogen and oxygen ions are thought to be released to the lunar surface as the moon passes through the Earth’s magnetotail (teardrop-shaped bubbles around the Earth that are affected by a magnetic field). This occurs on the fifth lunar day of each month.
As the solar wind presses on this bubble, some lines of Earth’s magnetic field break. This line is bound to the planet only at one end.
When the Moon collides with Earth’s magnetotail, some of the broken bonds are fixed, causing hydrogen and oxygen ions that previously left Earth’s atmosphere to suddenly rush towards the very direction.
Günter Kletechka, a geophysicist at the University of Fairbanks in Alaska, said, “It’s like the moon is in a shower. A stream of water ions returns to Earth and falls on the surface of the moon.”
Researchers suggest that because the moon doesn’t have a magnetosphere, permafrost is created when ions hit the lunar surface. Part of this hoarfrost can go below the surface and turn into liquid as a result of various geological processes.
When Was Water Formed On Earth And Moon?
Researchers speculate that these ions accumulated slowly over the billions of years after the late heavy bombardment, a period during which the early Earth and Moon were struck hard by other celestial bodies rushing into space.
NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter gravitational data has been used to closely study the lunar poles and several large craters. The team discovered an anomaly that could indicate a crack in the rock that could hold permafrost.
“Structural expansion and crack-forming crater impacts create void-space networks suitable to house large-scale cellars of liquid water.”
“Rear shell calculations show that thousands of cubic kilometers of water could have accumulated inside the Moon in this way over the past 3.5 billion years.”
What Are The Other Sources Of Moon’s Water?
The water on the Moon likely came from several sources, including the reaction of hydrogen and oxygen from the solar wind, but scientists say most may have come in this way.
Estimated stockpiles will be sufficient to fill North America’s Lake Huron. The coatings formed by the craters and cracks in the rock had to provide the necessary covering to prevent water from evaporating back into space.
NASA aims to have long-term human presence on the moon, which requires a suitable lunar station with a nearby water source. This latest study could help experts decide where to place these stations.
“Water ions that originated on Earth thousands of years ago could be used to sustain life for astronauts because NASA’s Artemis team plans to build a base camp at the lunar south pole,” says Kletechka.