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Moon Space Science

Moon May Have Once Had Water 89

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the also-i-may-once-have-had-whisky dept.
Smivs writes "US scientists have found evidence that water was held in the Moon's interior, challenging some elements of the theory of how Earth's satellite formed.The Moon is thought to have been created in a violent collision between Earth and another planet-sized object. Scientists thought the heat from this impact had vaporised all the water. But a new study in Nature magazine shows water was delivered to the lunar surface from the interior in volcanic eruptions three billion years ago. This suggests that water has been a part of the Moon since its early existence."
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Moon May Have Once Had Water

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  • Moon River? (Score:5, Funny)

    by DrLudicrous (607375) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @08:36AM (#24132179) Homepage
    Moon River... wider than a mile... I'm crossing you in style some day.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What, are you using your whole fist, doc?

      • What, are you using your whole fist, doc?

        Better get your lunar ass checked before it's too late, turkey!

  • Manifold Space (Score:5, Informative)

    by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday July 10, 2008 @08:37AM (#24132183) Homepage Journal

    Stephen Baxter wrote about tapping the water in the Moon in his novel Manifold Space. Apparently the notion of deep wells of water on the Moon has been seriously contemplated by astrophysicists since the early 70s.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by AmigaMMC (1103025)
      I always thought Stephen Baxter was ahead of his time. In all his novels he shows an uncanny ability to predict a believable far away future.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by akzeac (862521)

      Stephen Baxter wrote about tapping the water in the Moon in his novel Manifold Space. Apparently the notion of deep wells of water on the Moon has been seriously contemplated by astrophysicists since the early 70s.

      The way you speak of the 70s as if it was a long time ago makes me start to feel really old.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        You think you're old...
        Sure, they funded manned trips to the moon those decades ago.
        Think of the pyramids of Egypt. They were built thousands of years ago.
        You try funding a project of that scope today, with that kind of durability, and see how far you get.
        Kids these days...
      • by ZosX (517789)
        Uh. That's half a lifetime and then some. Life is short. Enjoy it.
    • As did Robert Heinlein with The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. The penal colony on the moon was only able to exist because of ice-mining operations below the surface.
  • Old news (Score:5, Funny)

    by Werrismys (764601) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @08:38AM (#24132189)
    Tintin found glaciers on the moon decades ago. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Explorers_on_the_Moon [wikipedia.org]
    • by kestasjk (933987)
      We all know the Nazi's visions of space travel were mere science fiction..
      • Clearly, you are not aware of the upcoming movie Iron Skies [youtube.com]. (From the makers of Starwreck [starwreck.com] for those of you who have seen it. For those who haven't... It is available as a free download.)

        P.S. This isn't advertising... Or well, it is but I am in no way assosciated to the people making those. Just seemed fitting here...

    • I think the significance is not simply the presence of the water, but rather the fact that it came from within the core. Glacier water on the surface could have been collected from impacts with other objects, but in theory, water from the core would have been present at tech time the moon formed.
  • by Idaho (12907) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @08:43AM (#24132227)

    See subject (of my post and the article)

    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by hansraj (458504) *

      Shouldn't the subject of your post be: "English may once have had grammar" or "English may have had grammar once"?

    • It might could of. It might could not of though too!
    • It's headline English.
      You know, like "English Left Waffles On Falkland Islands" and such.

  • by cupantae (1304123) <maroneill@NOSPAM.gmail.com> on Thursday July 10, 2008 @08:56AM (#24132343)

    "another planet-sized object"
    Perhaps Xenu's spacecraft was bigger than we imagined.

  • next they'll be telling us that Amy Winehouse, Oliver Reid and Dean Martin did too.
  • heh. (Score:3, Funny)

    by apodyopsis (1048476) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @09:05AM (#24132413)
    I can picture it now. A nice full Earth, a glorious tranquil sea.... oh wait.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why doesn't somebody just ask Sen. McCain?

    • by fredrated (639554)

      Because when McSame is asked a question he has to have someone look up what he thinks, and I don't think he has an entry for 'water on the moon', though I may be wrong.

  • I never bought that massive collision thing, something about it just doesn't seem right. Now there is some proof it isn't.

    Worth watching developments of the LCross next year.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Chyeld (713439)

      I never bought that massive collision thing, something about it just doesn't seem right. Now there is some proof it isn't.

      Not quite.

      "That points to two possibilities: Water either was not completely vaporised 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."

    • If you don't like the massive collision idea, consider that maybe it was a more massive collision than was thought and what ended up in orbit was chunks more than splash. Doesn't matter if the chunks were of hot mantle, as there is still a lot of water in the Earth's mantle.
    • by RockDoctor (15477)

      I never bought that massive collision thing, something about it just doesn't seem right. Now there is some proof it isn't.

      As Chyeld says, not quite ; actually, not by a significant margin.

      If you RTFA, you'll see that they're detecting "up to" 46ppm water. That's 0.0046% (presumably percentages by weight not by volume, but it could be mole-% ; it makes a difference, but not a huge difference). In contrast, if you pick a random lump of mafic minerals from your reference books, you'll find water concentrations

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 10, 2008 @09:14AM (#24132491)

    The title says

    "..challenging SOME ELEMENTS of the theory of how Earth's satellite formed.."

    There is NO indication that the collision theory is wrong. It just gives a bit more detail about where liquid water was at the time. From TFA:

    "..."It suggests that water was present within the Earth before the giant collision that formed the Moon," Dr Saal explained.

    "That points to two possibilities: Water either was not completely vaporised 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."

    I suggest that after the collision there was still a lot of water floating round the two bodies, which would have fallen back onto both, so there's no real mystery raised by discovering trace amounts of water.....

  • Water? (Score:2, Funny)

    by MikeDirnt69 (1105185)
    Water? WHO CARES!

    Does it ever had oil?
    • "Does it ever had oil?"

      I had no idea Jar-Jar Binks read Slashdot. Or maybe it's one of the cats from Can I Haz Cheezburger?
  • by Bombula (670389) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @09:28AM (#24132699)
    I'm not sure why there's such suprise about discovering water on the Moon, Mars and other bodies in the solar system. Not only are comets and debris certain to have delivered significant quantities to every significant object in the solar system, it seems patently obvious that accretion is not a perfect centrifuge. If it were otherwise, Mercury would be comprised of 100% of one material - say, gold - while earth would be 100% iron or nickel, Mars 100% something else, and so on.

    Since this is not the case, it seems not just obvious but inevitable that virtually all materials be found in some quantity within every signficant body in the solar system.

    • Besides, what's the big deal? Alright, there might be some sort of life.. fine, what's next? Does it mean that humans can inhabit it without life support? No.
      • Well, life on another planet basically kills the idea of a human-centric universe. If there's life on the closest planets to us, it's basically impossible for us to be the only intelligent life forms out there.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by meringuoid (568297)
          If there's life on the closest planets to us, it's basically impossible for us to be the only intelligent life forms out there.

          Not necessarily. We'd need to do some kind of molecular analysis before we made declarations like that.

          Earth is virulently alive, it's thoroughly infested with life everywhere you look. It's quite possible that life found on, say, Mars would be a descendant of life from Earth: think bacterial spores riding a rock from impact ejecta.

          If Mars-life has the same basic DNA chemistry

          • If Mars and Earth were to share some DNA, it would not necessarily mean that life was shared between the two planets. It could also mean that basic dna was seeded to BOTH planets by meteors. I believe the chances of simple dna evolving on Earth are astronomical (clue). I think it's much more probable that basic reproductive life started once in infinite space (probably within huge hydrocarbon nebulas), and then spread.
          • by mcmonkey (96054)

            Earth is virulently alive, it's thoroughly infested with life everywhere you look. It's quite possible that life found on, say, Mars would be a descendant of life from Earth: think bacterial spores riding a rock from impact ejecta.

            But given life has so infested Earth, wouldn't we expect the same on Mars? Mars may have had life at some time in the past for which evidence is scarce, but if Mars has life now, shouldn't it be not only easy to find, but hard to miss?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by fermion (181285)
      Here is my understanding without seeing any of the peer reviewed published work. It does not have so much to do with the water, as the formation the water is in and the how it hints at the origins of the moon. The rocks that water is in is volcanic, likely formed on the moon. This indicates that some time the past, the moon was volcanically active, and these volcanos ejected rock and water. The concentration of water in these rocks appears to suggest that concentration of water match the concentration i
      • What is all the fuss about the water being boiled off ? So the water travelled with all the other debris as steam. It then cooled when it hit the upper atmosphere / space. It's momentum carried the ice and debris out into space, eventually the moon formed. Whether the water was liquid, steam, or ice, the momentum of the impact would have sent a lot of it out into space to form the moon.
      • by RockDoctor (15477)

        The rocks that water is in is volcanic, likely formed on the moon. This indicates that some time the past, the moon was volcanically active,

        This hasn't been seriously disputed since people started to do detailed mapping of the Moon. The presence of volcanic features has been undisputed. There has been much dispute about the age of the volcanism, with a small proportion of observers claiming contemporaneous activity while others remain unconvinced by the reports of activity.

        and these volcanos ejected rock an

  • Once? (Score:3, Informative)

    by oodaloop (1229816) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @09:41AM (#24132911)
    Do they not realize the moon has water on its surface now, albeit in its solid state? I realize this is news and everything, but the title implies the moon no longer has water.
  • Water on Earth evaporates all the time, but it doesn't leave the planet. Why would water evaporating in the collision mean there would subsequently be no water on the moon?

  • Uhh, Yeah (Score:2, Funny)

    by gerstens (962231)
    Where do you think the whales were hiding?
  • Scientists thought the heat from this impact had vaporised all the water.

    The atoms from the molecules still exist. Heck, the molecules probably still exist except for the few torn apart by very extreme heat and then used to oxidize other materials which probably would have been the loose Hydrogen. Almost all igneous rocks on Earth's surface, contain some water. They were formed at temperatures that "vaporize water".

    • There was no much water on the moon, it had whalers, but no whales. (We're whalers on the moon, We carry a harpoon. But there ain't no whales So we tell tall tales And sing our whaling tune.)
    • Now moon sand worms are choking the water supply off. However these worms, when they die turn into a valued flavoring substance.

    Futurama and Dune, together!

  • The moon wasn't formed - it twas built [google.com]

    Now Lousiana has something else to teach. [slashdot.org]
  • Argh, no. (Score:4, Informative)

    by blair1q (305137) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @11:18AM (#24135205) Journal

    The moon has water.
    The water is bound up in the rocky material, the same way it was on Earth 4.5 billion years ago (when Earth was still pretty much molten).

    Earth did not have pooling surface water until hundreds of millions of years later. The moon apparently cooled quickly enough that free water did not exude from the rocky material. Either that, or the moon is small enough that any exudate just floated off into space rather than forming an atmosphere (H20 is lighter than O2 or N2, so that is plausible, since there is no other gas in the lunar atmosphere, either).

    Slashdot articles are vetted by someone before becoming main topics, right? No? Yes? Is one of the criteria now how much controversy the wrong information in the article will cause?

    • Play Sim Earth as a kid?

      The solar system has a lot of water. Lots of commets plowed early planets/planetoids/moons. That's another source of water.

      Now let me get back to crashing this commet into my planet...

  • So long and thanks for all the fish,

  • Robert Heinlein's The Man Who Sold the Moon's "Blowups Happen." Put it down and turned on the radio, and NPR says there used to be water on our satellite. Weird!
  • How else would they grow their moonajuana?

  • Moon MAY Have Once Had Water "US scientists have found evidence that water was held in the Moon's interior" So which is it? Should be phrased "US scientists have found evidence that water MAY have been held in the Moon's interior"
  • It's the only explanation for all the sharks with lasers that keep attacking my X1

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