The Moon May have Once Contained Life
Billions of years ago when it still had a semblance of an atmosphere, a still wet moon may have once contained life.
Although Earth’s moon today may seem like the textbook definition of a dead planetoid, a long time ago it may have looked much, much different.
A new theory based on recent discoveries suggests that billions of years ago, shortly after its formation, the moon may have contained the building blocks of life. The surface may have been covered in liquid as volcanic activity continued to spew gas and water vapor, creating a rudimentary atmosphere capable of protecting the surface and potentially helping to create life. It would have been an amazing sight to see from Earth, looking up and seeing a living object so close – or it would have been if the Earth weren’t a violent and still forming planet, that is.
The moon may have gone through two active periods, the first around four billion years ago during its formation (around the same time as the Earth’s infancy), and then again half a billion years later as volcanic activity hit its peak. The gas and liquid in the air would have theoretically been enough to keep the heat and moisture on the surface as pools and possibly even oceans of liquid settled in.
A relatively strong magnetic shield surrounding the moon at the time would have also protected the surface from solar radiation, giving anything evolving a chance. The atmosphere would still be alien and unlivable by human standards, but it could have been enough to create simple organisms.
This habitable period would have lasted millions of years, possibly hundreds of millions of years before the volcanic activity settled and the planet began to cool. As that happened, the surface would have slowly begun to dry up as the atmosphere dissipated. The magnetic field also began to weaken, meaning solar radiation and bombardment by comets and meteors would have increased.
Part of this new theory relies on another recent discovery that could have major implications for the future. Last year, researchers discovered evidence that there may be a relatively large amount of water under the surface of the moon. The previous thinking was that any evidence of liquid discovered on the lunar surface was almost coincidental and didn’t signify much. Trace elements of liquid are not that uncommon, but reservoirs are.
Future missions to the moon will focus on this theory and look for evidence of liquid deep below the surface, and not just to confirm a theory. If the presence of liquid in large amounts is confirmed – even if it is a block of ice and only loosely related to water – it could provide the resources needed to eventually form a permanent human presence on the moon.