Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Moon's interior has much higher water content than previously believed

Date:
June 14, 2010
Source:
Carnegie Institution
Summary:
Scientists have discovered a much higher water content in the moon's interior than previous studies. Their research suggests that the water was preserved from the hot magma that was present when the Moon began to form some 4.5 billion years ago, and that it is likely widespread in the moon's interior.

Scientists have discovered a much higher water content in the Moon's interior than previous studies. Their research suggests that the water was preserved from the hot magma that was present when the Moon began to form some 4.5 billion years ago, and that it is likely widespread in the Moon's interior.
Credit: iStockphoto/Rafael Pacheco

Scientists at the Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory, with colleagues, have discovered a much higher water content in the Moon's interior than previous studies. Their research suggests that the water was preserved from the hot magma that was present when the Moon began to form some 4.5 billion years ago, and that it is likely widespread in the Moon's interior.

The research is published in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of June 14.

"For over 40 years we thought the Moon was dry," remarked lead author Francis McCubbin. "Recently, scientists detected water from Apollo samples on the order of 46 parts per million. We studied two other Apollo samples and a lunar meteorite using secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS), which can detect elements in the parts per million range. We combined the measurements with models that characterize how the material crystallized as the Moon cooled. We found that the minimum water content ranged from 64 parts per billion to 5 parts per million -- at least two orders of magnitude greater than previous results."

The prevailing belief is that the Moon came from a giant-impact event, when a Mars-sized object hit the Earth and the ejected material coalesced into the Moon. From two of the samples, the Carnegie scientists determined that water was likely present very early in the formation history as the hot magma started to cool and crystallize. This result means that water is native to the Moon.

The previous studies showing water on the Moon analyzed volcanic glasses. These researchers looked within KREEP-rich rocks. KREEP comes from the last stages of crystallization. KREEP, rocks contain more potassium (K), rare Earth elements (REE), phosphorus (P), and other heat-producing elements such as uranium and thorium. "Since water is insoluble in the main silicates that crystallized, we believed that it should have concentrated in the KREEP," explained coauthor Andrew Steele. "That's why we selected it to analyze."

The researchers specifically studied hydroxyl, a compound with an oxygen atom bound with hydrogen, in the mineral apatite -- the only water-bearing mineral in the assemblage. After initial analyses, the scientists excluded one of the Apollo samples from further study because it was unlikely to yield good information about magmatic water content. They concentrated on the other Apollo sample and the lunar meteorite to determine water in the lunar interior.

"It is gratifying to see this proof of the OH contents in lunar apatite," remarked lunar scientist Bradley Jolliff of Washington University in St. Louis. "The concentrations are very low and, accordingly, they have been until recently nearly impossible to detect. We can now finally begin to consider the implications -- and the origin -- of water in the interior of the Moon."

This research was funded by NASA and Carnegie.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Carnegie Institution. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Francis M. Mccubbin, Andrew Steele, Erik H. Hauri, Hanna Nekvasil, Shigeru Yamashita, and Russell J. Hemley. Nominally hydrous magmatism on the Moon. PNAS, June 14, 2010 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1006677107

Cite This Page:

Carnegie Institution. "Moon's interior has much higher water content than previously believed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100614160151.htm>.
Carnegie Institution. (2010, June 14). Moon's interior has much higher water content than previously believed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100614160151.htm
Carnegie Institution. "Moon's interior has much higher water content than previously believed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100614160151.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Space to Ground: Hello Georges

Space to Ground: Hello Georges

NASA (Aug. 18, 2014) Europe's ATV-5 delivers new science and the crew tests smart SPHERES. Questions or comments? Use #spacetoground to talk to us. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise

Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) The Chasqui I, hand-delivered into orbit by a Russian cosmonaut, is one of hundreds of small satellites set to go up in the next few years. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, August 15, 2014

This Week @ NASA, August 15, 2014

NASA (Aug. 15, 2014) Carbon Observatory’s First Data, ATV-5 Delivers Cargo, Cygnus Departs Station and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Shuttle Replica Hoisted for Landmark Exhibit

Space Shuttle Replica Hoisted for Landmark Exhibit

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 14, 2014) The space shuttle replica Independence has been hoisted atop Space Center Houston's shuttle carrier aircraft, creating a monument to the shuttle program which will open to the public next year. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins