Scientists using data from NASA's instrument aboard the Indian spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 have detected water filled with mineral grains for the first time on the moon's surface that originates from deep inside the lunar crust.
The finding, published in Nature Geoscience journal, marks the first discovery of evidence of "magmatic water" on lunar surface.
Earlier, researches had revealed the existence of water in lunar samples or moon rocks brought to earth by Apollo astronauts.
"For many years, researchers believed that the rocks from the moon were bone-dry and any water detected in the Apollo samples had to be contamination from Earth," said Rachel Klima, a planetary geologist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL).
According to Klima, M3 (NASA's Moon Mineralogy Mapper) imaged the lunar impact crater Bullialdus, which lies near the lunar equator. Due to crater's location and the type of rocks it held, scientists were interested in analyzing this area to quantify the amount of water inside the rocks.
"This rock, which normally resides deep beneath the surface, was excavated from the lunar depths by the impact that formed Bullialdus crater," said Klima.
"Compared to its surroundings, we found that the central portion of this crater contains a significant amount of hydroxyl - a molecule consisting of one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom -- which is evidence that the rocks in this crater contain water that originated beneath the lunar surface."
Three years ago, M3 gave the first mineralogical map of moon's surface and also found out water molecules in the polar region of the moon.
After the detection of water, scientists are now waiting to compare this water with other characteristics of the lunar surface.
"This internal magmatic water also provides clues about the moon's volcanic processes and internal composition, which helps us address questions about how the moon formed, and how magmatic processes changed as it cooled," Klima said.
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