For years, astronomers have been trying to find out if there’s water on our moon or not. While a lot of research and study has been performed in this respect, the question still remains unanswered with almost no physical evidence found yet.
According to a new research conducted by a team of Japanese scientists, there might be frozen hidden caches of water ice under the surface of the moon. The research team has reportedly found the mineral, called moganite, in a lunar meteorite, dubbed NWA2727, which was discovered in a desert in northwest Africa some 13 years ago.
Interestingly, moganite, a crystal of silicon dioxide similar to quartz, is formed only in the presence of water. The presence of traces of moganite in a lunar meteorite thus confirms that frozen water exists beneath the Moon’s dusty surface. The finding could mean a major breakthrough in science, but also for planning any future space flights to colonize the Moon.
“For the first time, we can prove that there is water ice in the lunar material,” Masahiro Kayama, the lead researcher from Tohoku University, told Space.com.
Kayama added that there is less water in moganite as the mineral in question forms from the evaporation of water.
The research team believes that water-rich asteroids and comets delivered water to the Moon around three billion years ago. It is believed that the liquid water existed on the lunar surface for a brief period before seeping beneath the surface and being trapped within the lunar rock. The crashing of asteroids or comets on the lunar surface in the ensuing period hurtled the moganite-filled rocks towards Earth as meteorites.
The research team completely denied the possibilities of the formation of the moganite mineral in the meteorite on the Earth’s surface as the conditions in the dry desert where the meteorites were found were not suitable for its formation. Kayama’s team said that they need to analyze more samples to build on these findings.
The research study titled, “Discovery of moganite in a lunar meteorite as a trace of H2O ice in the Moon’s regolith,” has been published in the journal Science Advances.