"What is important for me is it's telling me
something about the origin of the moon and the Earth and the presence of
water at very early times," Saal said in a press statement.
With space nations now aiming for manned missions to the moon, a possibility of
liquid water located on the moon has excited researchers. But astronomers
will now have to head back to the drawing board to try and discover how much
water is available on the moon and if astronauts would be able to gain access
NASA will head back to the moon later this year with the Lunar Reconnaissance
Orbiter, in an effort to look for traces of water on the moon's surface while
also looking for possible landing sites. The LRO will specifically focus
on the moon's South Pole.
Many scientists believed the moon didn't have water because of the way it was
created around 4.5 billion years ago. The most likely theory is that a
flying object close to the size of Mars slammed into the Earth and sent pieces
of debris into space that helped form the moon. If there was any liquid
on the service, it would have likely evaporated before the pieces were able to
join together to form the moon.
The pebbles in question are composed of iron-rich orange glass and
magnesium-rich green volcanic glass that were joined together immediately
following the explosion. Scientists already knew the pebbles had carbon
and sulfur, which means they were created due to some type of strong
eruption. Instead of looking for signs of water directly because it separates
into smaller components naturally, researchers looked for any signs of hydrogen,
using a technique that measured the composition of the rock molecule by
Scientists believe the discovery could also help offer insight into how long
water has been on Earth as well.
“It suggests that water was present within the Earth before the giant collision
that formed the Moon,” Saal added. “That points to two possibilities: Water
either was not completely vaporized in that collision or it was added a short
time - less than 100 million years - afterward by volatiles introduced from the
outside, such as with meteorites.”
The U.S., China, Japan, Russia and several other space nations have plans for
various lunar missions. Each nation is in various stages of missions that
will eventually lead up to possible manned missions to the moon.