Scientists Find Evidence of Water on the Moon, Here on Earth

Shot of lake at night.

Scientists found more evidence for the existence of water on the moon in a lunar meteorite found here on Earth. The discovery came in the form of moganite, a mineral similar to quartz that requires water to form.

Though there are hundreds of lunar meteorites on our planet, this is the first time researchers found the presence of moganite, an oxide mineral. Of the roughly 350 lunar meteorites discovered on Earth, the majority have been discovered in the Sahara and Antarctica.

Scientists originally believed water could exist on the moon in the form of ice trapped in its shadowy craters, though this theory was mostly conjecture. That was until 2008, when the Chandrayaan-1 probe discovered water vapor in the moon’s atmosphere. Since then, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has measured hydrogen on the moon’s surface, strongly suggesting the presence of water.

But it turns out this entire time, all the evidence we needed was here on Earth. And it’s the first sign of water in the subsurface of the moon at mid and lower latitudes.

A recent experiment by scientists at Brown University showed that melted rocks from asteroid impacts are capable of depositing large amounts of water on a planet or satellite. This discovery showed that its possible water on earth may have been deposited by such an impact. And researchers believe H2O may have arrived on the moon in the same way.

If true, this means there is a greater likelihood that a number of planets out there gained water, and subsequently life, through a this type of impact deposit. Though not all scientists agree, with some saying an impact that significant would actually eliminate any chance of water.

But if the theory is correct, it would posit that liquid water temporarily existed on the lunar surface, before it cooled below ground, remaining there and forming moganite in a process called brecciation.

The lunar meteorite NWA 2727, which contains evidence of moon water

Eventually, another comet impact hit the moon hard enough to blast some of that moganite with escape velocity, sending it out of the moon’s gravitational pull and toward Earth.

Because the moganite-rich meteorite was found in the arid climate of the Sahara, it rules out the possibility that brecciation could have happened on Earth from terrestrial weathering.

The find is promising for future colonization of the moon as a launch point for further space exploration. Water would not only provide a drinking supply for lunar inhabitants, but would offer a key component for making rocket fuel. Estimates put the amount of water contained in lunar soil as high as 0.6 percent, allowing for 1.6 gallons per 36 cubic feet.

Earth’s relationship with the moon is intrinsic to many planetary functions, though we’re not quite sure how it got there. Compared to other planets’ moons ours is massive, and it’s even possible life may not have formed on Earth at all without it in such close proximity.

Despite the numerous trips to the moon’s surface during the Apollo missions, its clear there is still a lot to learn about our lunar counterpart. With such a significant discovery found here on Earth, maybe its time to take another look at the samples brought back from the Apollo missions. Unless they too are just pieces of petrified wood. 

Our Moon: Lunacy by Design


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The Oumuamua Spaceship; Interstellar Asteroid or Alien Probe?

Two months ago, a cigar-shaped object sped past Earth at an incredible rate, before being catapulted to the outer reaches of the solar system by the Sun’s gravitational pull. This asteroid-like object was given the name Oumuamua and is now being carefully tracked to pick up any frequencies it might be emitting and find out more about this strange artifact.

 

The Alien Asteroid 

On October 19th of this year, Robert Weryk spotted an asteroidal object zipping through the solar system at a rate of 196,000 mph. Weryk was using the Pan-STARRS telescope at the Haleakala Observatory in Hawaii, hence the vowel-heavy Polynesian name, Oumuamua.

Oumuamua means scout, to “reach out first” or “reach out in advance.” Weryk says he sees the asteroid as a messenger from the past that is reaching out to us.

At first, it was thought that Oumuamua was a comet, though it was quickly reclassified due to its lack of a cometary tail, but was soon reclassified again due to its odd shape and provenance, possibly coming from the star Vega in the Lyra constellation. This interstellar object, being the first of its kind ever observed, was given a unique classification with the name 1I/2017 U1, a.k.a. Oumuamua.

Oumuamua is several hundred meters in length, with its height and width about a tenth of that. Its odd structure is fitting for interstellar travel and is a shape that scientists believe would be ideal for interstellar spacecraft. The cigar-shape minimizes friction and damage from interstellar gas and dust, preventing collisions that large, round asteroids would be more susceptible to.

 

alien asteroid

nasa.gov

 

Though most astronomers assume that it is simply an icy asteroid, careering through space on a 600,000-year journey from Vega, others believe it is worth looking at a little more closely for evidence of extraterrestrial life.

This is where the Breakthrough Listen project got involved, when they pointed the Green Bank Telescope at it for a 10-hour period to pick up any radio frequencies or anomalies.

The program, funded by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, in coordination with Stephen Hawking and the SETI program at UC Berkeley, devotes satellite power to listening for extraterrestrial life in the universe.

Though they’re not getting their hopes up with Oumuamua, they believe it to be worthwhile, and whether or not it turns out to be a spaceship, artifact, or psychic monolith, like the one in Arthur C. Clarke’s Space Odyssey, Breakthrough Listen believes it can at least glean some useful information on this cosmic phenomenon.

After pointing the Green Bank Telescope at Oumuamua, scientists don’t believe to have discovered any signals, though some believe it could have triggered an “awakening” of the extraterrestrial entity from which it originated. This is according to Nick Pope, the former head of the Ministry of Defense for the UK.

Scientists are still intrigued by the composition of the asteroid, as it appears to have a strange organic coating around it, possibly protecting its inner composition. Normally asteroidal objects like these are composed of ice and rock, leaving a trail in their wake, especially when it comes within close proximity to a star.

Oumuamua came particularly close to the Sun, yet it emitted no tail and continued its journey at a mercurial speed out towards the edge of the solar system.

According to scientists who were able to catch a quick glimpse, Oumuamua consisted of minerals and alloys not found in our solar system, adding to its mystique.

Scientists are Still Puzzled

With Oumuamua on a fast trajectory out of the solar system, scientists must act quickly to study it. By May of 2018, it will be on its way past Jupiter as it is currently moving at a rate of 58,160 miles per hour.

Oumuamua’s shape and speed aren’t the only characteristics that have puzzled scientists. Its dark red color, reflecting only 4 percent of sunlight, seems to vary in color as scientists observe it. Looking at it under infrared light, scientists noticed it was grey in color, typical for an icy body that we’ve seen more locally, though it didn’t emit the tail normally seen with icy asteroids and comets.

Some are drawing the eerie connection to the Arthur C. Clarke novel, Rendevous with Rama, in which a cylindrical alien spaceship enters our solar system, originally mistaken for an asteroid. The similarities between Oumuamua and Rama are uncanny, with the sci-fi asteroid coming in on a fast trajectory from interstellar space, rotating rapidly to create a gravitational field for its inhabitants inside.

 

Oumuamua

 

Oumuamua’s rotation has been calculated to once every 8 hours, while Rama rotated once every 4 minutes. But these technicalities haven’t prevented the Breakthrough Listen and other hopefuls from attempting to capture some type of signal from it.

Scientists have even suggested the possibility that we may catch up to Oumuamua with the Space-X BFR that is being developed for a manned mission to Mars. For this to be feasible though, the rocket would have to be completed and launched within the next five years.

There have been other ideas for catching up with Oumuamua by companies interested in mining asteroids as well as those who simply want to study them. Deploying a series of small probes to the interstellar object was another possibility. The Breakthrough Starshot project has proposed this concept in its search for alien life, though they have yet to develop a practical prototype.

This past August, Breakthrough Listen discovered a series of fast burst radio signals or FRBs coming from a distant dwarf galaxy, similarly perplexing scientists. Is this project on the cusp of discovering definitive proof of extraterrestrial life?

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