Another Moon Stunner: Its interior is wet, too

The moon is the closest celestial body to Earth, and even though it has been walked on, photographed and sampled by human beings, there is still a lot that remains unknown. In October 2010, a groundbreaking discover was made, which exposed a previously unknown ice filled crater at the moon’s South Pole. The fact that a million gallons worth of ice have remained intact on the moon’s surface was enough to perplex some scientist, which makes the recent discover of water inside the moon even more startling. According to recent discoveries it is noted that the inside of the moon has water levels that are about the equivalent of the Earth’s mantle and the moon also contains Earth-like levels of fluorine, chlorine and sulfur.

This discovery was made when James Van Orman and Thomas Weinreich analyzed pieces of moon rock from the samples brought back by the Apollo 17 mission. These particular rocks are known as melt inclusions that are unique globules of lunar magma encased in solid crystals. Within the crystals of the melt inclusions are the trapped remains of water from the moon’s interior. Though most of their rock samples were microscopic, the largest only being as wide as a human hair, scientists were able to find water contents of 615 to 1410 parts per million. These miniscule crystals were found with a little bit of luck by Weinreich, who was then a Brown University freshman, and is now the co-author of the study.

The discovery of water in the moon does not completely change previous existing theories about the moon’s creation, but it does raise some new questions. The original theory of the moon’s creation is based on the theory that an object ran into the Earth about the size of the planet Mars. It is believed that the destructive collision created debris from the Earth that formed into the present day moon. The presence of Earth-like water levels, along with the presence of other elements has led scientists to believe that their model for the moon’s creation may be inaccurate. It is possible that the collision was less dramatic than speculated, which would have kept the water from being completely being eliminated from partially cooked Earth pieces. It is equally as possible that the impact was much more violent than first imagined, which would mean that vaporized rocks may have created a thin atmosphere that preserved water on the moon. In both cases, the presence of water would be attributed to a miscalculation in the energy released from the collision. The problem with both of these theories is that neither explains for the presence of fluorine, chlorine and sulfur in the moon. While it is too early to completely reject their old model, many scientists acknowledge that a great deal of research needs to be done to fully understand recent discoveries. Until definite answers are found, the mystery surrounding the moon continues as scientists try to explain the discoveries of water on both the moon’s surface and interior.

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