Study: Moon water likely from comets

Jan. 10, 2011 at 8:21 PM
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MIDDLETOWN, Conn., Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Water found on the moon probably came from comets that bombarded the lunar surface after its formation, U.S. scientists say.

Researchers led by James Greenwood, a professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., analyzed the chemical properties of water in lunar rock samples collected by NASA astronauts during Apollo moon landings between 1969 and 1972, reported Monday.

This moon water has the same properties as those of three known comets, the researchers said.

Greenwood's team found the chemical properties of the lunar water were similar to those that had been measured in three comets: Hyakutake, Hale-Bopp and Halley.

"If comets delivered the majority of water to the moon, an inescapable result is that the Earth also received a large cometary input to its oceans," Greenwood said. "This may end up solving one of the great questions of our field, namely the origins of the Earth's oceans."

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