Meteor showers dig up water on the moon

WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE Water molecules in the moon’s vicinity suggest that a thin layer of water is buried in the moon’s soil. In this image taken from the International Space Station, the blue glow is from Earth’s atmosphere.

Meteor showers bring moon geysers. A lunar orbiter spotted extra water around the moon when the moon passed through streams of cosmic dust that can cause meteor showers on Earth.

The water was probably released from lunar soil by tiny meteorite impacts, planetary scientist Mehdi Benna of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and colleagues report April 15 in in Nature Geoscience. Those random impacts suggest water is buried all over the moon, rather than isolated in freezing dark craters — and that the moon has been wet for billions of years.

Samples of lunar soil brought back by the Apollo astronauts suggested that the moon is bone dry. But in the last decade or so, several remote missions have found water deposits on the moon, including signs of frozen surface water in regions of permanent shadow near the poles (SN: 10/24/09, p. 10).

“We knew there was water in the soil,” Benna says. What scientists didn’t know was how widespread…

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