The Moon is completely inhospitable and barren with no semblance of life on its surface, however, this may not have always been the case.
Scientists have discovered that at two points in the natural satellite’s four billion year existence, the Moon could have harboured life.
These two windows occurred shortly after it formed, and then during a peak in lunar volcanic activity around 3.5 billion years ago, new research has revealed.
The exact conditions necessary to support even the simplest lifeforms are almost impossible to find in the vast expanse of space.
Humans have yet to find a single planet, outside of our own, that hosts life.
However, astrobiologists at Washington State University (WSU) and University of London now believe that conditions on the lunar surface were sufficient to support simple lifeforms in two brief windows during its history.
During both periods, they believe outgassing from the volcanic activity could have formed pools of liquid water on the lunar surface, as well as an atmosphere dense enough to keep it the water there for millions of years.
‘If liquid water and a significant atmosphere were present on the early Moon for long periods of time, we think the lunar surface would have been at least transiently habitable,’ said Professor Dirk Schulze-Makuch, of WSU.
The researchers drew on results from recent space missions, as well as sensitive analyses of lunar rock and soil samples that prove the surface of the moon is not as dry as previously thought.
In 2009 and 2010, an international team of scientists discovered hundreds of millions of metric tons of water ice on the moon.
Additionally, there is strong evidence of a large amount of water in the lunar mantle, which is thought to have been deposited very early on in the moon’s formation.
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