News / Science & Technology

Earth and Moon Share Water Source

Volcanic glasses collected during Apollo moon missions during the early 1970s.
Volcanic glasses collected during Apollo moon missions during the early 1970s.
Rosanne Skirble
Water on the moon came from the same source thought to have supplied most of the water on Earth, according to new research published in the journal Science. The common origin offers new insights into how planets formed and evolved.

Scientists have long believed our Moon was formed when a Mars-size planet collided with the Earth 4.5 billion years ago and jettisoned a disk of molten debris into space. The cataclysm would have generated enough heat on the newborn Moon to burn off the elements needed to form water, leaving it bone dry.  

But in a series of papers over the past five years, Brown University geochemist Alberto Saal and his colleagues have been telling another story. Using new instruments, they re-examined samples of lunar rocks collected by astronauts on the Apollo Moon-landing missions in the early 1970s.   

Water on Moon Earth and Moon Share Water Source
Water on Moon Earth and Moon Share Water Sourcei
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
“We found the first evidence (of) the components of water in lunar volcanic rocks. And these volcanic rocks come from the interior of the Moon, therefore the interior of the moon should have the components that will form water.”   

In 2011, they reported that the chemical signatures of water trapped in the ancient lunar rocks matched those found in rocks from the interior of the Earth.   

“Therefore we thought that somehow the water that is in the Moon is related to the water we see on Earth. They have the same type of origin. They came from the same type of reservoir. So the question came up of where the water came from, and how the water got to the Moon,” said Saal.

As much as 98 percent of the water on the young Earth is believed to have come from ice-bearing meteorites - debris from the formation of the solar system that rained down on the still-cooling planet 4.5 billion years ago.

“Essentially the Earth when it formed, formed with water by the coalescence of these very early solid materials that formed from the solar nebulae," said Saal.

Saal believes some of that water was transported with the new Moon during its birth in that cataclysmic collision.

“Somehow, we don’t know how exactly, but somehow part of that water was not completely evaporated into vacuum, but some of that water went to the Moon,” he said.

Saal’s research helps explain how terrestrial planets like Earth, Venus, Mars and Mercury formed. Prior to evidence of water on the Moon, there was no reason to suspect that these planets would have had water when they formed. Saal says while Earth is a dynamic evolving system, the Moon is a fossilized record of our planet’s origins.  
 
“By looking at the Moon and [seeing] that the rocks on the moon have water and that that water looks very similar to Earth that gives us the indication that the water on Earth came very, very early and probably most likely the Earth formed with water,” he said.

Saal plans to analyze more Moon samples to confirm the findings, which may reveal more details about the events that formed the Moon, and its link to early Earth.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More