Water hidden in the Moon may have proto-Earth origin

earthriseWater found in ancient Moon rocks might have actually originated from the proto-Earth and even survived the Moon-forming event. Latest research into the amount of water within lunar rocks returned during the Apollo missions is being presented by Jessica Barnes at the European Planetary Science Congress in London on Monday 9th September.

The Moon, including its interior, is believed to be much wetter than was envisaged during the Apollo era. The study by Barnes and colleagues at The Open University, UK, investigated the amount of water present in the mineral apatite, a calcium phosphate mineral found in samples of the ancient lunar crust.

“These are some of the oldest rocks we have from the Moon and are much older than the oldest rocks found on Earth. The antiquity of these rocks make them the most appropriate samples for trying to understand the water content of the Moon soon after it formed about 4.5 billion years ago and for unravelling where in the Solar System that water came from,” Barnes explains.

Barnes and her colleagues have found that the ancient lunar rocks contain appreciable amounts of water locked into the crystal structure of apatite. They also measured the hydrogen isotopic signature of the water in these lunar rocks to identify the potential source(s) for the water.

“The water locked into the mineral apatite in the Moon rocks studied has an isotopic signature very similar to that of the Earth and some carbonaceous chondrite meteorites,” says Barnes. “The remarkable consistency between the hydrogen composition of lunar samples and water-reservoirs of the Earth strongly suggests that there is a common origin for water in the Earth-Moon system.”

This research has been funded by the UK Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC).

IMAGES Earth’s Moon, as imaged by the Galileo mission. Credit: NASA/JPL/USGS http://www.europlanet-eu.org/images/stories/ep/planetary_images/moon_galileo_hires.jpg Hydrogen map shows the presence of water in the mineral apatite in one of the lunar samples analysed in this study. The blue colours correspond to the presence of lunar hydrogen as measured by the ion microprobe. The scale bar represents 2 micro meters (1/500th of a mm). Credit: Open University http://www.europlanet-eu.org/images/stories/epsc2013/barnes.jpg

CONTACTS
Jessica Barnes
The Open University
Milton Keynes, UK
jessica.barnes@open.ac.uk

From Monday 9 September – Friday 13 September, Ms Barnes can be contacted through the EPSC 2013 Press Office

MEDIA CONTACTS

Anita Heward
EPSC 2013 Press Officer
anitaheward@btinternet.com
+44 7756034243

Oli Usher
Communications
Manager MAPS Faculty, UCL
o.usher@ucl.ac.uk
+44 (0)20 7679 7964

NOTES FOR EDITORS

About the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC)

EPSC is the major European meeting on planetary science. EPSC 2013 is taking place at University College London (UCL) from Sunday 8 September to Friday 13 September 2013. It is the first time that the Congress has been held in the UK.  The 2013 programme includes around 75 sessions and workshops.  Details of the Congress and a full schedule of EPSC 2013 scientific sessions and events can be found at the official website: http://www.epsc2013.eu/

EPSC 2013 is organised by Europlanet, UCL and Copernicus Meetings and the event is sponsored by the UK Space Agency, UCL, Astrium and the Science and Technology Facilities Council. To celebrate EPSC coming to London, a ‘Festival of the Planets’ has been organised across the Capital in collaboration with partners including the Baker Street Irregular Astronomers, the Bloomsbury Theatre, the British Astronomical Association, the British Interplanetary Society, the Natural History Museum, the Open University, Queen Mary University of London, the Royal Astronomical Society, Royal Museums Greenwich and University College London.  More information about the events can be found at:

http://www.europlanet-eu.org/epsc2013/outreach-activities

Follow #epsc2013 @epsc2013 @europlanetmedia on Twitter

About Europlanet Europlanet is a network of planetary scientists, whose aim is to bring together the disparate European community so that Europe can play a leading role in space exploration. Europlanet’s activities complement the mission activities of the European Space Agency through field work at planetary-analogue terrains on Earth, laboratory measurements, computer modelling and observations from ground-based telescopes. Founded in 2002 and funded by the European Commission from 2005-2012, Europlanet has evolved into a community-based organisation that will carry on this work and plan for future missions and mission support.

www.europlanet-eu.org

About UCL (University College London) Founded in 1826, UCL was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to admit students regardless of race, class, religion or gender and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine. UCL is among the world's top universities, as reflected by its performance in a range of international rankings and tables. According to the Thomson Scientific Citation Index, UCL is the second most highly cited European university and the 15th most highly cited in the world. UCL has nearly 27,000 students from 150 countries and more than 9,000 employees, of whom one third are from outside the UK. The university is based in Bloomsbury in the heart of London, but also has two international campuses – UCL Australia and UCL Qatar. Its annual income is more than £800 million.

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