April Fools! We May Have Overestimated the Amount of Water on the Moon

Good thing we didn't send anybody up there first, right?

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Hey, you know how we thought there might be water somewhere on the Moon? Funny story: according to new computer model-aided research published in the March 20th issue of Science journal, the data we were using as evidence lunar water content might not have been so accurate after all. So, the Silver Millennium isn’t an accurate representation of what it’s actually like on the Moon? Well, I feel cheated.

The culprit in this case is apatite, a type of phosphate mineral recently found in lunar rock samples. Back in 2010, when this lunar apatite was first discovered, it was assumed that the hydrogen in these samples would be a good indicator of the amount of possible water content. However, when Jeremy Boyce and his team at UCLA created computer models to look at how these crystals might have formed from cooling lunar magma, they found that the apatite’s presence doesn’t actually directly correlate to water. Instead, it’s more likely that the earliest-forming apatite sucked up all the fluorine and chlorine in the magma first, and later-forming apatite became incredibly hydrogen-rich as a result.

But cool your jets there, Sailor Mercury. This doesn’t mean that there wasn’t any water on the moon—just that once again, we don’t know for certain one way or the other, and that we shouldn’t jump to conclusions without concrete scientific evidence to back it up.

“We had 40 years of believing in a dry moon, and now we have some evidence that the old dry model of the moon wasn’t perfect,” Boyce said in a statement from the UCLA “However, we need to be cautious and look carefully at each piece of evidence before we decide that rocks on the moon are as wet as those on Earth.”

While we’re on the subject,though, Apatite would be a fantastic name for a lost member of the Dark Kingdom, if we’re writing Sailor Moon fanfiction. Not that we’re doing that, of course. Ahem.

(via Phys.org, image via Sailor Moon)

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