Moon Water May Not Be As Abundant As First Thought

    April 3, 2014
    Val Powell
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In the latest twist surrounding the composition of the moon, scientists have discovered the possibility of the Earth and moon sharing the same source of water. A scientific paper entitled The Lunar Apatite Paradox contains findings of a new study that a common method for approximating the water content in lunar rocks could be flawed.

Apatite is a type of calcium phosphate mineral that can be found in terrestrial rocks, as well as the bones and teeth of humans. According to Allah H. Treiman of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in NASA, apatite is formed through the crystallization of lunar magma.

Several rock samples were retrieved by various Apollo missions, and these samples were examined to determine the moon’s environment. Numerous scientists had initially predicted that the moon was bone dry, but that notion changed in 2010, when scientists analyzed hydrogen-abundant apatite found within pieces of lunar rocks. After this examination, some scientists claimed that the moon could have a moist environment.

However, there is a possibility that this method is inaccurate as the amount of hydrogen found within apatite crystals is a result of an unconventional crystallization process. UCLA geochemist and Paradox lead author Dr. Jeremy Boyce added that apatite is a “funny” mineral in that it follows a specific order in incorporating chlorine, fluorine, and hydrogen – fluorine first, then chlorine, then last is hydrogen.

Apatite only gets large amounts of hydrogen when the other two elements have been exhausted.

Apatite in its early stages of formation is so rich with fluorine that it empties the magma of all the fluorine. In the later stages of formation, apatite does not contain any fluorine or chlorine, and therefore becomes rich with hydrogen.

As a result, the lack of chlorine and fluorine causes the formation of hydrogen-rich apatite, although that does not automatically translate to a moist moon.

Origins Of Moon’s Water Explored

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