The Moon’s surface bears the scars of eons of meteorite blasts, but these space rock strikes are also the key to an incredible new discovery about our satellite: it expels drops of water during meteorite showers.
NASA researchers found that meteorite blasts across the surface of the moon are powerful enough to force tiny drops of water out of the dusty lunar soil and into the atmosphere above.
“The lunar surface that’s releasing the water is being protected by a layer – a few centimeters – of dry soil that can only be breached by large micrometeoroids,”says planetary scientist at NASA and the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Mehdi Benna.
When these small meteoroids hit the Moon, the shockwave can force out the droplets of water that coat the grains of lunar soil lying below the drier surface layer.
Most of the material in the impact crater is simply vaporized and escapes into space, but about one-third of the water forced out by the meteorite strike lands back down on the lunar surface.