Scientists claim recent evidence of water on the Moon originated from deep within the lunar interior. According to a report from Space.com, NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) instrument detected what scientists refer to as “magmatic water,” confirming previous analysis researchers performed on Moon rocks brought back to Earth nearly four decades ago.
“Now that we have detected water that is likely from the interior of the moon, we can start to compare this water with other characteristics of the lunar surface,” said Rachel Klima, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. “This internal magmatic water also provides clues about the moon’s volcanic processes and internal composition, which helps us address questions about how the moon formed.”
Scientists used images NASA’s M3 took of an impact crater near the Moon’s equator, finding that the crater contained significant traces of hydroxyl; the find hints that water once existed beneath the lunar surface, according to Klima. M3 has found traces of water before, but this find is significant given its location. Space.com said solar winds are capable of creating water molecules upon striking the lunar surface, but that phenomenon typically takes place at higher altitudes; this latest find was deep within a crater.
The research is detailed in Nature Geoscience, and sheds Moon in a light that suggests it isn’t just a huge, dry rock. Now that scientists believe there are large amounts of water ice below that grayish surface, it’s just a matter of how we can get to it—and what it’ll reveal about our lunar neighbor.