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New theories suggest water may have always had a presence on the moon due to its materials colliding with comets

University of Tennessee, Knoxville, researchers have studied the existence of water on the moon and discovered its origins. 

Larry Taylor, study leader and a professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, along with a team of researchers, have found where the water on the moon originated.  

Taylor was not only able to trace the lunar water's origins, but he was the one who discovered that the moon even had water in the first place. This lunar water discovery he made last year changed all beliefs that the moon was completely dry.

Since this discovery, researchers also found that the moon has an abundance of water. So much, in fact, that humans could possibly live on the moon. Now, Taylor has found the origins of all this lunar water.  

Taylor and his team believe the water came from comets crashing into the moon shortly after it formed. They came to this conclusion after studying rocks that were retrieved from the Apollo mission. The team then measured the rocks' water signatures through the use of secondary ion mass spectrometry, which could allow researchers to tell where and when the lunar water originated.  

As it turns out, water on the moon is different from water on Earth. This discovery led to the belief that comets supplied the moon with a majority of its water back when it originally formed.  

It is believed that the moon formed when the nascent Earth and Theia collided, sending materials out into space. These materials created the moon, and according to Taylor's theory, comets were hitting both the moon and Earth. But because the Earth already had an abundance of water, it was not affected by these comet collisions and did not acquire enough of the comets water for it to be integrated into its original water system. But the moon, which was dry at this point, received a majority of its water via comet collisions.  

"This discovery forces us to go back to square one on the whole formation of the Earth and moon," said Taylor. "Before our research, we thought the Earth and moon had the same volatiles after the Giant Impact, just at greatly different quantities. Our work brings to light another component in the formation that we had not anticipated - comets." 

Taylor's new theory of how the moon formed suggests that water has been present throughout the moon's entire history. While comets supplied the moon's internal supply of water, solar winds supplied the moon's external supply of water.  

What makes the water on the moon different from water on Earth is that it contains the ingredients for water - hydrogen and oxygen - but is not yet water. If the rocks on the moon were heated up, the ingredients would turn into water.  

"This water could allow the moon to be a gas station in the sky," said Taylor. "Spaceships use up to 85 percent of their fuel getting away from Earth's gravity. This means the moon can act as a stepping stone to other planets. Missions can fuel up at the moon, with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen from the water, as they head into deeper space to other places such as Mars." 

This study was published in Nature Geoscience.

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RE: Theia
By MozeeToby on 1/13/2011 6:02:18 PM , Rating: 2
Careful there throwing around the word 'theory'. The giant impact hypothesis doesn't have enough weight of evidence behind it to be moved into theory territory yet. And it has some significant difficulties explaining some of the observed facts, including some of those that he OP brought up. Diluting the word just makes it easier for a certain group to deny a certain other divisive theory.

The evidence that supports it amounts to the unusually high angular momentum of the Earth-Moon system and the nearly identical Oxygen isotope levels found between the Earth and Moon (which is also used to argue against it, since modern models show that most of the moons material would have come from Theia, thus they should be close but slightly different).

RE: Theia
By AssBall on 1/13/2011 7:07:03 PM , Rating: 1
A well modeled "hypothesis", then, if You'd rather.

RE: Theia
By wordsworm on 1/14/2011 2:54:42 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe you ought to pick up a dictionary and research the meaning of the word theory before trying to pick other people's vocabulary for them. These are real scientists who know what it means, and use it appropriately.

RE: Theia
By geddarkstorm on 1/14/2011 3:02:56 AM , Rating: 3
A theory is a hypothesis supported by empirical evidence that has beaten out multiple null hypotheses and other competing hypotheses designed specifically to challenge it. A hypothesis cannot be a theory simply because other hypotheses have not been proposed to challenge it yet, but only -after- such has occurred in a rigorous manner. That's the -scientific- definition of theory, different from the laymen use.

But the word theory is used far too loosely even by the scientific community these days. It isn't as stringent a meaning as it once was. And this creates confusion in the media.

RE: Theia
By wordsworm on 1/14/2011 10:54:01 AM , Rating: 1
That's not true at all. For example, we have the Big Bang vs. the Static Universe. Both are theories. Even string theory, despite lacking falsifiability (normally a key element needed before being called scientific at all), is still referred to as a theory by a large scientific body. As a joke, I like to refer to the Magic Fairy Dust theory, which can be used in place of String Theory. In order to prove it, I need to harness the power of a supernova.

You see, a theory can even be dismissed as wrong and still be a theory. The Static Universe Theory has been around for a long time, and everyone still calls it a theory. So, even if the scientific community rejects a theory, it doesn't necessarily stop calling the idea a theory.

RE: Theia
By geddarkstorm on 1/14/2011 1:42:22 PM , Rating: 2
You just proved my point completely. Using "theory" in such a way takes all weight of substantiation out of the word. You cannot now look at something called a "theory" and immediately know that it has a wide breadth of evidence backing it, making it quite likely the truth. For many of these "theories", that is completely not the case, and they are nothing more than "what ifs" or well wishes. But "theory" sounds better than "hypothesis". What then, is a "hypothesis" if a "theory" is anything that comes out of a scientist's mouth?

String theory has never been and doesn't have any way to even be tested (except maybe one method, but even that is debatable), so it isn't even science! As for anything to be science, it has to be testable and falsifiable. Period. And yet, we call it "theory"? And is it any wonder the populous at large is confused about science?

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