BEIJING, Oct. 16 (Xinhuanet) --Water molecules on the moon were most likely formed by the solar wind, the constant stream of charged particles from the sun, according to a study in the Nature Geoscience as quoted by media reports Tuesday.
Although early discoveries proved the existence of water, scientists have been puzzled for a long time by the problem where the water on the moon came from.
By analyzing samples of lunar soil fetched by the Apollo missions, researchers from the University of Tennessee found that the lunar soil had similar chemical properties to charged hydrogen particles found in the solar wind.
And the surface of the moon contained water in the form of compounds called hydroxyls.
The findings suggest the hydrogen was brought to the moon surface in the solar wind, and then combined with oxygen to form hydroxyls, compounds similar to water which contain one hydrogen and one oxygen atom to be stored in the soil.
Youxue Zhang, one of the researchers, said: "Our work shows that the 'water' component, the hydroxyl, is widespread in lunar materials, although not in the form of ice or liquid water that can easily be used in a future manned lunar base."
"This also means that water likely exists on Mercury and on asteroids such as Vesta or Eros further within our solar system. These planetary bodies have very different environments, but all have the potential to produce water, " lead author Yang Liu added.