A recent study has shed light on the origin of water on the Moon and suggests that electron waves in Earth’s magnetosphere could be responsible for generating water ice on the lunar surface. While the presence of ice on the Moon has been known for some time, the source of this water has been a mystery.

The research, led by Shai Li from the University of Hawaii, connects the presence of water on the Moon with the region around Earth known as the magnetosphere. The magnetosphere acts as a shield, protecting Earth from solar radiation and cosmic particles.

As the Moon orbits Earth, it passes through the magnetic tail, which is an elongated tail created by the solar wind pushing against the magnetosphere. This tail contains highly charged particles, including electrons and ions. The magnetic tail shields the Moon from charged particles while allowing light to reach the lunar surface.

The study, based on data collected by the Indian spacecraft Chandrayaan-1, observed that the formation of water on the Moon did not decrease as expected when it passed through the magnetic tail. Previous studies had suggested that the formation of water on the lunar surface was mainly due to hydrogen ions in solar winds. However, the researchers discovered that there must be additional sources of water formation in the magnetic tail.

The researchers propose that high-energy electrons within the magnetic tail react with the lunar soil, releasing trapped hydrogen that can then form water. Further investigation is planned on the water content at the lunar poles during different points in the Moon’s passage through the magnetic tail to gain a better understanding of this process.

This research is significant as it helps scientists locate sources of water on the Moon, which will be crucial for future long-term lunar missions and potentially for the establishment of human settlements.

2. Space.com
3. Science Alert