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Moon NASA Science

Discovery of Water In Moon May Alter Origin Theory 170

Posted by timothy
from the cheese-content-up-for-negotiation dept.
MarkWhittington writes "Scientists, working on a NASA grant, have made another startling discovery concerning water on the Moon. It seems that the interior of the Moon has far more water in it than previously thought — as much as the Earth does, apparently. Researchers made this discovery by examining samples of volcanic glass brought back to Earth by the Apollo 17 astronauts. These tiny beads of glass have about 750 parts per million of water in them: about the same amount as similar volcanic glass on Earth. It is postulated that more water than previously imagined exists deep below the lunar surface and was brought up and trapped in these crystalline beads by volcanic action billions of years ago." Phil Plait's original post adds more detail.
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Discovery of Water In Moon May Alter Origin Theory

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  • Who's to say.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Since the accepted theory about the origin of the moon is that it is the result of a large body impacting Earth (I watch the Universe, no scientific background here at all), is it not possible that the samples that they're finding on the moon are part of the Earth transferred in the impact?

  • by Hatta (162192) on Saturday May 28, 2011 @06:04PM (#36276024) Journal

    Now we know why all the whalers went to the moon.

  • by creat3d (1489345) on Saturday May 28, 2011 @06:12PM (#36276078) Homepage
    Just nuke the damn moon and let's get done with it.
  • by The Archon V2.0 (782634) on Saturday May 28, 2011 @06:27PM (#36276154)
    Or best offer. No undercover agents, pls.
  • This seems to be more evidence that water exists all over this part of the Solar System instead of Moon and Earth formed differently. In fact it would be kind of weird and probably be more supported of "separate formation" if we couldn't find water on the Moon.

    • The prevailing theory for some time now (guessing a decade, maybe two?) is that the very early Earth was hit by by a sizeable object, at an angle and speed that didn't outright shatter the Earth but blew enough of the combined masses away from each other to form the Earth and Moon as we more or less know them today.

      Also, water on Earth is theorized to have come from comets bombarding the infant planet. In the amounts necessary to fill the oceans today, it only makes sense that a lot of water-rich comets hit

      • by radtea (464814)

        The prevailing theory for some time now (guessing a decade, maybe two?) is that the very early Earth was hit by by a sizeable object, at an angle and speed that didn't outright shatter the Earth but blew enough of the combined masses away from each other to form the Earth and Moon as we more or less know them today.

        The theory goes back to the '70's and is pretty well supported by computational models of the impact. It is difficult to get a moon as large as ours to form in any other way, particularly given the lack of water in surface rocks on the Moon.

        Reading the comments here it is clear that many people are badly misunderstanding the story, including misjudging the scale of the impact. Although it is good to know that the arrogance of the ignorant is sufficiently alive and well here to ensure that when one or two

        • by RockDoctor (15477)

          It is my understanding that the lunar-formation impact has to occur after the Earth was already wet, so hydrous geology in the lunar mantle implies the impact hypothesis needs to be revisited.

          The disruption of the Giant Impact (I think it's big enough to deserve capitals ; in the Earth-Moon system, there is only one such event, though it seems more common in the solar system as a whole) was such as to vaporise or finely disperse a large proportion of the volume of the proto-Earth - a quarter or so. That wen

  • Comets? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jklovanc (1603149) on Saturday May 28, 2011 @06:46PM (#36276236)

    Couldn't it be possible that the comet impacts created the water containing glass? A sufficiently large impact should melt some rock that may look lite it was brought up from inside the moon. The current theory is that water is deposited by comets; why not the glass too?

    • Some water is deposited on space rocks by comets, but water is everywhere, it's one of the most common molecules in the universe. Comets can certainly create large quantities of glass beads on impact, but I assume they used isotopic analysis to determine the origin of the beads.
    • by Tasha26 (1613349)
      Apollo 17, 1972? Those Nasa people must be really desperate for funding if they are now re-examing dusty cobweb ridden artifacts from the 70's. I guess it's also time to make massive generalisation such as, this one sample is representative of the whole moon.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by khallow (566160)

        Apollo 17, 1972? Those Nasa people must be really desperate for funding if they are now re-examing dusty cobweb ridden artifacts from the 70's.

        That's part of the power of sample return missions. Once you have the sample, you can throw not only all of human science at the sample to deduce things about the place of its original, but you can throw a bunch of future scientific progress at the sample as well.

    • A sufficiently large impact should melt some rock that may look lite it was brought up from inside the moon.

      No, rock melted by impact freezes/solidifies differently than volcanic rock - that's one of the ways they locate terrestrial impact craters that are otherwise no longer visible.

    • Just to throw this out. Couldn't it also be possible the glass WAS FROM EARTH?

      .

  • From TFA:

    Lunar water can be mined then refined into liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. After that, it can be shot into space by a lunar-based rail gun to a fuel depot at one of the Lagrange points, where the gravity of the Moon and the Earth cancel one another out. A spacecraft headed, say, for Mars would not have to carry all the fuel it needs to get to Mars from the Earth, but rather stop at one of these fuel depots, top off its tanks, and proceed on.

    Well, first we have to build a moon base from which to do the mining...

    Aside from that, let's say you've escaped Earth's gravity well -- wouldn't it be better to not burn lots of fuel firing retro-rockets to stop and fill back up, and re-accelerate? What if the space base on the Moon used it's rail gun to launch the fuel on an intercept course -- you know, like when someone asks for some gas money for their car, and you toss them a Molotov cocktail and say "catch".

    I'm sorry, what I mean to s

    • Let's just start with getting people back to the Moon, or to Mars, an asteroid, hell anywhere other than our own orbit -- that's so routine that a space launch is about 20 seconds of local news. If you want space funding, you need to excite the general public about space.

      While I agree with you, there is a problem with that theory.

      From NASA's point-of-view, the way you excite people about space is by doing new and exciting things. So if these launches are so routine that nobody cares, they won't be excited about them. For evidence, take a look at the Shuttle and Apollo missions. Hell, the Shuttles flew hundreds of missions. So many that nobody cared anymore. Apollo suffered similarly--after Apollo 11, nobody cared. We got to the Moon. What was the line from the Apollo

      • Part of NASA's problem is PR. Instead of showing the dangerous stuff and real science being done, they show astronauts doing zero-g "push-ups" and other antics. Show the shuttle docking with the ISS. Show the spacewalks. But leave the gag reel stuff behind.
      • by VanessaE (970834)

        "...about as exciting as a trip to Pittsburgh."

  • Couldn't this be interpreted as additional evidence for the theory that the moon formed in a collision between earth and another object, in the sense that the moon once where part of earth and some water where transfered during the collision?
    • by Spykk (823586)
      Water contained in molten ejecta would sublimate almost instantly in the vacuum of space.
  • Is that the source of these volcanic beads was near a particularly large( for the moon) source of water. I am not an expert but this seems like a more reasonable guess than there is as much water on the moon as on earth. At least to a laymen
  • It's turtles _most_ of the way down.

  • Ok, this was a shock too me when I first read this because there was huge amounts and still is of Lunar research going on and I can see the moon having some water tucked away in an impact crater...here and there in the shadows.

    But the moon has the same amount of water content as the earth?

    That is a _huge_ amount of water to miss for the pass 50 plus years of research.

    It is a gigantic amount of water. They have done TONS of seismic studies of the moon and how is it possible that this has been missed?

    WTF?

    -Ha

    • It's only in the last couple of years that they confirmed there was any water at all on the moon, and that's at its polar regions which gets scant amounts of sunlight.

      It's possible what water remained on the lunar surface was vapourized by the sun and blown away by solar winds billions of years ago, so only sub-surface water remains for most of the moon.

  • by strack (1051390)
    is it enough and easy enough to get to to make colonisation somewhat practical?
    • by Jeremi (14640)

      is it enough and easy enough to get to to make colonisation somewhat practical?

      Maybe -- what you need to do is send to the moon a robot that is able to mine and store water, and to manufacture these things: (1) solar panels to capture additional power, (2) more robots like itself.

      Then wait 10 years, at which point there will be a large human-habitable area dug out below the moon, complete with swimming pools.

      • by lennier (44736)

        Maybe -- what you need to do is send to the moon a robot that is able to mine and store water, and to manufacture these things: (1) solar panels to capture additional power, (2) more robots like itself.

        WALL-F 3 Eva2!

  • Seems to me, we should maybe go back to the moon.

    I know Mars seem so much more interesting, but it's obvious we have a shit load more of learn from the moon, not to mention, if it has water inside, and it's easy to get at, would make colonies on the moon (for blasting off to mars and other locations) a lot more promising.

  • I'm stuck on the glass part of the article. It is pieces of glass, right? Pieces of what glass? Who's glass was it and what kind of glass was it? Hell, what kind of water was it? I'm mean was Neil having a spritz of water with a good bourbon or was it a gin and tonic. They need to be specific about these things. This is science they are talking about.

  • If it has the same ppm of water in the samples, then the amount of water in the moon would (theoretically) be proportional to the amount of water on the earth. Unless the moon is over half water, there is no way there is as much water as on earth. I'm not trying to be a pedant, but it seems like these articles are starting to spin out a bit.

  • The moon is made of cheese, as it is.
  • Water estimated on moon. It's also known the moon is hollow, as demonstrated when astronauts set up geophones and explosive detonators, establishing that the moon "rang like a bell" for hours after the explosion. At least two separate sample experiments were conducted, both agreeing. So, what's the likelihood there's a deep underground body of water on the moon? And is that where the dolphins went after they said thanks for all the fish? Also where the lunar Nazi colony gets its water? And was H.G Wells ri

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