There may be more water on the moon than we thought — why is that good news?

new moon

Different Kinds of Moons

A group of Brown University scientists has discovered evidence suggesting the moon is hiding a lot more water than previously thought.

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The researchers studied layers of lunar rock samples containing tiny glass beads formed from magma inside the moon billions of years ago, trapping water inside them.

After examining satellite data to see where else those glass beads are located, the scientists found high levels of beads, suggesting high levels of water, inside the numerous deposits of volcanic material across the moon’s surface.

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The discovery of water inside those deposits "bolsters the idea that the lunar mantle is surprisingly water-rich,” the researchers said in a news release.

The findings, published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience, show where exactly those water-rich areas are (near the Apollo 15 and Apollo 17 landing sites), but they don't conclude how much water there is.

But why is this good news?

Scientists have speculated the possibility of water in the lunar poles, but those areas are much more difficult to access. If water exists in these volcanic (or “pyroclastic”) deposits, it’ll be significantly easier for them to access, lead author Ralph Milliken said.

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And importantly, huge pockets of water on the moon could save explorers from having to transport water from earth to space, which is both a heavy hassle and huge expense.

Instead, they could mine the moon’s surface for water, Shuai Li, co-author of the study said.

"Anything that helps save future lunar explorers from having to bring lots of water from home is a big step forward, and our results suggest a new alternative,” he said.

In addition, not having to transport water from earth also opens up possibilities for "a longer-term human presence," NPR reported.

Could we someday establish a human moon base?

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For years, scientists believed the inside of the moon lacked water and other volatile elements, but "the growing evidence for water inside the Moon suggest that water did somehow survive, or that it was brought in shortly after the impact by asteroids or comets before the Moon had completely solidified," Li said. "The exact origin of water in the lunar interior is still a big question."

Both Li and Milliken plan to conduct further research to understand where the hidden moon water is located.

Read the full study at