When scientists discovered water on the moon in 2009 it seemed like a big step, but it may have been just the beginning of a deeper look into the origins of the rock that orbits earth.
It turns out there may be 100 times more water in lunar magma than was previously thought. According to the journal Science, these new calculations may shed light on just how the moon came to be.
NASA first discovered water on the moon by crashing a rocket into the crater Cabeus and taking up-close measurements. According to Bloomberg, that find suggested there may be 1 billion gallons of water on the moon, which may have come from meteors or comets.
But the new study, which essentially recalculates the amount of water with a more accurate equation, shows there may be 1 billion Cabeus craters worth of water, and that the liquid may be trapped in the moon's interior.
The most widely acknowledged present theory of the moon's creation states that a Mars-sized body likely collided with a not-fully-formed proto-Earth, blasting material into orbit. Simulations have shown that much of the moon may have come from whatever collided with the proto-planet, and not the Earth itself. These new findings cast a bit of doubt on these theories.
The findings suggest that the impact from a Mars-sized body that formed the moon was either much hotter or much cooler than previously thought. If the moon impact was cooler, then some material including water wasn’t molten and was locked in the lunar interior.
If there was more energy, then the rocks boiled and created a temporary atmosphere, Hauri said. While the atmosphere would have been dense and short-lived, it might have allowed the still-forming Earth and moon to exchange water.
“The presence of water tells you how much potential it has to sustain life,” Hauri said.