Scientists have found water particles on the surface of the moon in the grains of the soil. They studied the samples of the soil from the Moon collected by the Apollo missions and observed the presence of water like compound called as hydroxyls.
This study has been done by the researchers from the University of Tennessee and their collaborators from the California Institute of Technology and University of Michigan, and published online in the journal Nature Geoscience.
This finding is supporting the observation that Moon is not dry but it contains icy drops of water on its surface. Such findings cause scientists to think on the source from where the water came. In this study, researchers have reported that water didn’t come by a comet or other celestial objects rather it was produced on the Moon’s surface.
According to the scientists, those water molecules could be resulted on Moon due to the constant stream of charged particles coming out of the Sun in the form of “solar wind”. Earth’s magnetic field protected us from those particles but Moon has no such protection. This solar wind takes hydrogen particles with it, which then combine with oxygen to form hydroxyls. Hydroxyls are the compounds, which are stored in the soil, having similarity with water with one hydrogen atom and one oxygen atom.
Youxue Zhang, one of the researchers, said: “Our work shows that the ‘water’ component, the hydroxyl, is widespread in lunar materials, although not in the form of ice or liquid water that can easily be used in a future manned lunar base.”
Lead author Yang Liu added: “This also means that water likely exists on Mercury and on asteroids such as Vesta or Eros further within our solar system. These planetary bodies have very different environments, but all have the potential to produce water.”
Yang Liu, Yunbin Guan, Youxue Zhang, George R. Rossman, John M. Eiler & Lawrence A. Taylor, (2012). Direct measurement of hydroxyl in the lunar regolith and the origin of lunar surface water. Nature Geoscience, doi:10.1038/ngeo1601