Home Universe Water on Moon Came from Asteroid Impacts Not Comets

Water on Moon Came from Asteroid Impacts Not Comets

by Sankalan Baidya
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Water on Moon

We all know by now that water on Moon is a reality. The only problem is that water exists on this celestial body under the surface. In other words, water is present inside the lunar surface not above it. But the question was, where did water on Moon come from? Previously it was conjectured that comets were responsible for bringing water to Moon. However, this theory no longer holds it ground.

Scientists from around the globe came together to analyze the data that was collected by a joint mission between ISRO and NASA. The mission took place in 2008. According to this new study, the water present inside lunar surface is a result of asteroid strikes and not due to comets. However, the study also maintains the premise that about 20% of water on Moon is from comets. How did the scientists determine that? They came to know this when they found deuterium in water. Deuterium is an isotope of hydrogen which is present in comets and not asteroids and hence, 20% of water in lunar surface is a result of cometary activities.

Water On Moon – How Did It Come?

There was a period called Lunar Cataclysm. During this period, which was about 4.5 to about 4.3 million years ago, a high number of asteroids collided on the lunar surface. Because of this, the asteroids left something on Moon which is known as carbonaceous chondrite-type materials. These carbonaceous chondrite-type materials eventually led to the formation of water molecules in lunar surface. Here is an extract from the recent study:

“To a first order, a dominantly asteroidal source of water accreted during the [lunar cataclysm] is similar to the dominant source inferred for the subsequent basin-forming epoch of the Moon, based on geochemical, and mineralogical markers, implying that asteroids and not comets dominated the impactor population hitting the Moon during its first 500 million years of geological history.”

NASA’s Apollo missions were a failure when it came to finding water in or on lunar surface. That’s when the world almost believed that our Moon has absolutely no water on it. Thanks to Indian Space Agency ISRO, evidences of water were found.

ISRO’s fist lunar mission conducted some spectrographic tests and determined that lunar soil from polar regions and shadowy craters had molecules which could exist only if water was present.

Water on Moon May Rescue Earth

Doesn’t that sound good? But at the same time, it is high time that we start checking our own activities on Earth because of which Earth’s clean water supply is dwindling down and NASA is working on methods that can be used for extracting clean water from lunar surface.

Interestingly however, the extraction of water on Moon is not really meant for earthlings as of now. NASA has plans for some deep space explorations for instance, the Mars missions that are lined up. These deep space explorations will be sending astronauts and they will need water for sustenance. The Moon might be a good water source for those astronauts.

Why can’t we send water from Earth? Good question! However, there is one teeny tiny problem. Liquid water is pretty heavy and sending water from Earth for deep space missions which will last for years is not really a great idea.

The Dark Face of Mining Water on Moon of Extraterrestrial Bodies

In 2015 a new law was passed which became known as SPACE Act. It is actually the abbreviated form for Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship Act. According to this act, private companies and citizens of US now have the legal authority to go into space and engage in commercial activities, which includes extraction of what is called, ‘space resources’. Luckily however, the Act did not permit extraction and exploitation of biological matter and life from space.

Despite this relief, imagine what will happen when private companies manage to extract space resources! Take, for instance, the case of water. What if water is extracted from terrestrial bodies and then they are packaged and bottled and sold to earthlings? What do you think will happen? Water will become a premium object that only rich and wealthy and buy. Rest of us – die folks die – die of thirst! Damn US!

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