A recent study published in the Nature journal (and later reported by Science Alert) reveals the existence of a mysterious hidden force that generates water on the Moon.
The paper states that waves of electrons indirectly arriving from Earth and the Sun contribute to the formation of frozen water on the lunar surface within the magnetotail, a long tail-like structure formed by Earth’s magnetic field.
When the Moon passes in and out of Earth’s magnetotail, the electrons generated hit its surface and create water on the Moon. The paper also suggests that within the magnetotail lies a plasma sheet made up of charged electrons and ions, pulled from Earth’s atmosphere and solar wind.
The study disputes earlier findings that hydrogen ions from solar winds generate water on the moon. Planetary scientist Shuai Li from the University of Hawai’i explains the water on-moon situation as such:
“Inside the magnetotail, there are almost no solar wind protons, and water formation was expected to drop to nearly zero,” he said. Instead, “In the magnetotail, there may be additional formation processes or new sources of water not directly associated with the implantation of solar wind protons,” Li added.
Researchers focused on the peculiar behavior of water abundance in mid-latitudes in relation to changing conditions in magnetized plasma on the moon.
They discovered that in the magnetotail, a structure with intense plasma activity that shields the moon from the solar wind, water continued to be formed despite the absence of proton implantation from the solar wind.
The latest revelation has shed fresh light on the presence of water on the moon potentially enabling the establishment of lunar colonies or bases in the far future. Water on the moon can be used for drinking, as well as for rocket fuel to explore the moon’s surface. It’s fun to think how that could possibly help someone in the future.