BREAKING NEWS One dead after cyclist hit by car in Fort Wayne Full Story

Did life once exist on the moon?

Although the moon might look desolate and pock-marked with impact craters today, new research suggests that it may ha...

Posted: Jul 23, 2018 9:37 PM
Updated: Jul 23, 2018 9:37 PM

Although the moon might look desolate and pock-marked with impact craters today, new research suggests that it may have once supported life.

A study published Monday in the journal Astrobiology cites two time periods during the moon's distant past when conditions on the surface were potentially habitable.

A new analysis suggests that there are two windows in the moon's past when it might have been habitable

Though there is no direct evidence for life yet, future missions might uncover it

Shortly after the moon was forming from a debris disk 4 billion years ago, it was releasing water vapor and other volatile gases in mass quantities. The second event happened about 3.5 billion years ago, when volcanic activity on the moon reached a peak.

On both occasions, the release of these volatile gases would have created liquid water pools on the surface, as well as a dense atmosphere that could stay in place for millions of years. It most likely had a magnetic field as well that could have protected any life on the surface from solar wind, a deadly flow of charged particles streaming out of the sun.

Today, the moon doesn't have an atmosphere but a very thin layer of gases, including sodium and potassium, that try to act like an atmosphere.

"It looks very much like the moon was habitable at this time" billions of years ago, study author Dirk Schulze-Makuch, an astrobiologist at Washington State University, said in a statement. "There could have actually been microbes thriving in water pools on the Moon until the surface became dry and dead."

The new study relies on data from space missions and analysis of rock and soil samples from the moon. In recent years, studies have suggested that there is more water ice on the moon than previously believed and that water could exist beneath the surface.

But what would life have looked like if it existed on the moon, and how did it originate?

On Earth, the earliest evidence of life can be traced to cyanobacteria fossils between 3.5 billion and 3.8 billion years old. Cyanobacteria are microscopic single-celled organisms that produce oxygen through photosynthesis.

The ingredients for life have been found in meteorites before, and it is believed that meteorites could have helped bring water to Earth in the early time of its formation. The researchers for this study propose that in the early days of our solar system, it's possible that meteorites that came in contact with Earth and "blasted off its surface" could have also landed on the moon.

This was common in the early solar system, when giant impacts and the transfer of meteorites between planets occurred, according to the study.

If so, the meteorites could have carried microbes to the moon, and those microbes could have lived in pools of water on the surface.

"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," Schulze-Makuch said in a statement.

Now, the moon is essentially dead and dry, its surface covered with dust. But if future missions revisit the moon, the researchers believe that retrieving samples from areas dating back to the peak of volcanic activity could provide evidence of water or life.

Experiments simulating the conditions on the moon 3 billion to 4 billion years ago could also be carried out in labs on Earth or the International Space Station to see whether microbes could survive, according to the study.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 590211

Reported Deaths: 9310
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion815581297
Lake44306666
Allen31919541
Hamilton28371304
St. Joseph26766371
Elkhart24098341
Vanderburgh18643213
Tippecanoe17422121
Johnson14496284
Porter14399160
Hendricks13870241
Madison10561212
Vigo10483171
Clark10240130
Monroe9076108
Delaware8836132
LaPorte8771155
Howard7897138
Kosciusko787277
Warrick643890
Hancock638797
Bartholomew626694
Floyd6150105
Wayne5933157
Grant5818110
Dubois544372
Boone534367
Morgan516291
Marshall494184
Henry493664
Cass471760
Noble460557
Dearborn458444
Jackson414745
Shelby402179
Lawrence380575
Clinton364539
Gibson356556
DeKalb337363
Montgomery334851
Harrison328542
Knox327839
Miami309843
Steuben306340
Adams295235
Whitley294125
Wabash293045
Ripley292345
Putnam284847
Huntington283557
Jasper282433
White267538
Daviess261672
Jefferson250738
Fayette242348
Decatur242182
Greene233360
Posey232326
Wells229447
LaGrange224161
Clay217932
Scott216937
Randolph208340
Jennings192535
Sullivan189031
Spencer181917
Fountain179725
Washington177118
Starke171341
Jay162821
Owen159537
Fulton159229
Carroll152115
Orange151433
Rush149918
Perry147227
Vermillion144933
Franklin143433
Parke12908
Tipton128232
Pike113625
Blackford107522
Pulaski95237
Newton89421
Brown85530
Benton84310
Crawford7579
Martin70013
Warren6587
Switzerland6205
Union6113
Ohio4677
Unassigned0374

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 826754

Reported Deaths: 10200
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin97493705
Cuyahoga821781012
Hamilton61350439
Montgomery41700399
Summit33399726
Lucas30111597
Butler29721228
Stark24811400
Warren18917139
Lorain18086212
Mahoning16758335
Lake15365135
Clermont15160104
Delaware1382177
Licking12679132
Trumbull12401302
Fairfield1218480
Greene11631133
Medina11128165
Clark10608264
Wood9964154
Allen9511126
Portage8867105
Miami886573
Richland8790116
Marion7319113
Tuscarawas7142174
Columbiana7085124
Pickaway702850
Wayne6781164
Muskingum671242
Erie5886118
Hancock537890
Ross530287
Scioto519662
Geauga483555
Darke457589
Ashtabula439068
Lawrence432651
Union430628
Mercer424287
Sandusky421862
Seneca413555
Auglaize412759
Huron410338
Shelby410221
Jefferson403366
Belmont395640
Washington372040
Putnam364672
Athens36369
Madison339329
Knox336522
Ashland331738
Fulton325943
Defiance319278
Crawford313268
Preble311534
Brown296619
Logan292729
Ottawa282134
Clinton279043
Williams270166
Highland262418
Jackson256943
Guernsey241725
Champaign240927
Fayette225529
Morrow22294
Perry221318
Holmes218662
Henry210247
Hardin204133
Coshocton197420
Van Wert196644
Gallia190926
Wyandot190549
Adams165615
Pike164116
Hocking163423
Carroll149516
Paulding139021
Noble117840
Meigs103221
Monroe95629
Harrison8568
Morgan79128
Vinton67113
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Mostly Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 16°
Angola
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 30° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 16°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
23° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 15°
Fort Wayne
Mostly Cloudy
24° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 14°
Lima
Cloudy
27° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 16°
Evening Light Snow Tuesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events