It is known that there are water molecules and ice on the moon, but where did it get there? Some of the water may have been hit by collisions between asteroids and comets, but new research points to another source of water: the Earth’s atmosphere.
Scientists say that hydrogen and oxygen ions escaping from the upper part of our atmosphere and then combining can form frozen rocks or surface liquid water over an area of 3,500 cubic kilometers.
The idea is that hydrogen and oxygen ions meet at the moon’s surface When the moon passes through the “tail” of the earth’s magnetosphere; It is a drop-like bubble around the earth that is affected by its magnetic field. The event takes place every month of the month, for five days.
As this bubble is blown by the solar wind, some of the Earth’s magnetic field lines are shattered and remain attached to only one end of the planet.
When the moon interacts with the Earth’s magnetosphere at this tail, some of these broken connections are restored, forcing hydrogen and oxygen ions that have fled from the Earth’s atmosphere to suddenly return to it.
“It’s almost like the moon is hitting the rain – back in the rain of water ions coming to Earth that are falling on the moon’s surface,” said Gunter Kleteshka, a geophysicist at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks.
The moon has no magnetosphere and therefore, when ions fall on its surface, researchers suggest, perennial drought occurs. Some part of this frozen rock, through various geological processes, can get to the surface and turn into liquid water.
Researchers have suggested that during the late heavy bombardment of space debris, these ions accumulated slowly over billions of years; This is the period when the early Earth and Moon were heavily bombarded by other celestial bodies wandering in space.
Using gravitational data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which orbits the moon, scientists have looked in detail at the moon’s polar regions and several large craters. The group noticed anomalies that could indicate cracks in the permanently frozen rocks.
“Crater cracks, the formation of structural expansions and cracks, create porous space networks suitable for the existence of large reservoirs of surface liquid water. “Calculations indicate that for the past 3.5 billion years, in this way, several thousand square kilometers of water phase should have accumulated under the surface of the moon,” – write the researchers.
It is true that water most likely hit the moon from several different sources, including the reactions of hydrogen and oxygen caused by solar winds, but scientists believe that much of the water could have gotten there this way as well.
This amount of water would be enough to fill Lake Huron in North America. Craters and cracks in the rock cover protect the water well from evaporation into space.
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The study was published in Scientific Reports.
Prepared according to uaf.edu and ScienceAlert.