Magazine article Natural History

How Dry the Moon

Magazine article Natural History

How Dry the Moon

Article excerpt

Whether the lunar interior is wet or dry is not a trivial question. A dry Moon would support the prevalent hypothesis that the Moon was blasted from Earth by a catastrophic impact early in our planet's history; a wet interior suggests another lunar origin event.

A lunar rock sample, collected by Apollo 16 astronauts in 1972, has rust on its surface, indicative of the presence of water. A recent chemical analysis, however, reveals information that can account for the rust formation by other means. Several tiny fragments of "Rusty Rock," officially, 66095, weighing a total of 537 milligrams, were analyzed by a team of researchers led by James Day of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) in La Jolla, CA, with colleagues from the University of Paris and the University of New Mexico.

Rusty Rock was known to contain an especially high amount of volatile, or easily evaporated, elements such as zinc. …

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