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Is the Moon's Core Made of Water?

Plamena M.Plamena M.

The question of whether there's water on the Moon has been a legitimate one for some time. 10 years ago the theory was officially rebuked. New data received from infrared and neutron spectroscopy are on their way to changing this.

Initially, scientists posited that there were traces of water on the poles of Earth's natural satellite. The Apollo missions proved this theory to be wrong. When the samples of lunar granite came back, scientists found no traces of water or any substances containing salt. This put an end to the search for water on the Moon.

But over the past 10 years, the situation has changed significantly. Analysis of volcanic glass obtained from the surface of the Moon has once again raised doubts about the presence of water or a hydrogen-containing substance on the satellite. It may in fact lie at its core.

When scientists first used neutron spectroscopy they found mixed results. By using infrared they found the answers they were looking for. In the search for hydrogen substances, they measured the protons coming off of the lunar surface with the aid of CRaTer (Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation). It sits in orbit around the satellite.

When cosmic rays reach the lunar surface they blast protons up from it. CRaTer detects these. Based on the model, scientists used a particle accelerator to imitate the effect that the cosmic rays have on hydrogen-containing material.

Full Moon

It turns out that when there's hydrogen present, the total level of proton radioactivity decreases. In other words - if there's water around the lunar poles, scanning of these regions will show a significant drop in protons. But when looking at the Moon again, scientists made several strange findings.

Proton radioactivity was in fact higher at the poles than on other parts of the satellite. At the same time, infrared spectroscopy showed the presence of substances containing hydrogen.

The reason - unusual effects that had not been noticed thus far. The protons detected were emitted from substances coming from the very depths of the Moon. This allows for speculation that the water is located closer to the core of the satellite than its surface.