By analyzing satellite images, the scientists found evidence of water trapped in “glass beads” in ancient ash and rocks that volcanoes spewed across the surface of the moon, said Ralph Milliken, lead author of the new research, published in Nature Geoscience, and an associate professor in Brown University’s Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences.
“The fact that nearly all of them (the volcanic deposits) exhibit signatures of water suggests … that the bulk interior of the moon is wet,” he said in a news release. This finding might be a boon for future missions to the moon because water could potentially be extracted from the volcanic deposits, Milliken told CNN. Though the volcanic glass beads don’t contain much water — maybe a few hundred parts per million — there’s a great deal of the volcanic material to work with as some fields of this volcanic refuse cover thousands of square kilometers and may be several kilometers deep, he said.
“The growing evidence for water inside the moon suggest that water did somehow survive [the moon’s formation], or that it was brought in shortly after the impact by asteroids or comets before the moon had completely solidified,” Shuai Li, a co-author of the research and a postdoctoral researcher at the Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), said in the news release. “The exact origin of water in the lunar interior is still a big question.”