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Moon May Have Harboured Life 4 Billion Years Ago, Research Suggests

Life on the Moon could have originated much as it did on Earth but the more likely scenario is that it would have been brought in by a meteorite, according to Schulze-Makuch

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The researcher's work draws on results from recent space missions and sensitive analyses of lunar rock and soil samples that show the Moon is not as dry as previously thought. Pixabay

While the Moon is presently unsuitable for habitation, there could have been life on its surface about four billion years ago, researchers have suggested.

There may have been actually two early windows of habitability for Earth’s Moon, according to the study published in the journal Astrobiology.

According to the researchers, conditions on the lunar surface were sufficient to support simple lifeforms shortly after the Moon formed from a debris disk four billion years ago and again during a peak in lunar volcanic activity around 3.5 billion years ago.

During both periods, the Moon was spewing out large quantities of superheated volatile gases, including water vapour, from its interior, according to the researchers.

The researchers said that this outgassing could have formed pools of liquid water on the lunar surface and an atmosphere dense enough to keep it there for millions of years.

“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,” said study co-author Dirk Schulze-Makuch from the Washington State University in the US.

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While the Moon is presently unsuitable for habitation, there could have been life on its surface about four billion years ago, researchers have suggested. Pixabay

The researcher’s work draws on results from recent space missions and sensitive analyses of lunar rock and soil samples that show the Moon is not as dry as previously thought.

Life on the Moon could have originated much as it did on Earth but the more likely scenario is that it would have been brought in by a meteorite, according to Schulze-Makuch.

The earliest evidence for life on Earth comes from fossilised cyanobacteria that are between 3.5 and 3.8 billion years old.

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During this time, the solar system was dominated by frequent and giant meteorite impacts. It is possible that meteorites containing simple organisms like cyanobacteria could have been blasted off the surface of the Earth and landed on the Moon.

“It looks very much like the Moon was habitable at this time,” Schulze-Makuch said.

“There could have actually been microbes thriving in water pools on the Moon until the surface became dry and dead,” Schulze-Makuch added. (IANS)

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NASA Wants Humans To Reach Mars By 2033

Many experts and lawmakers are concerned that NASA cannot make the deadline, especially given the major delays in development of its new heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System, which is being built by aerospace giant Boeing.

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NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine talks to employees about the agency's progress toward sending astronauts to the moon and on to Mars during a televised event, March 11, 2019, at the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. VOA

NASA has made it clear they want astronauts back on the Moon in 2024, and now, they are zeroing in on the Red Planet – the US space agency confirmed that it wants humans to reach Mars by 2033.

Jim Bridenstine, NASA’s administrator, said Tuesday that in order to achieve that goal, other parts of the program – including a lunar landing – need to move forward more quickly.

“We want to achieve a Mars landing in 2033,” Bridenstine told lawmakers at a congressional hearing on Capitol Hill.

“We can move up the Mars landing by moving up the Moon landing. The Moon is the proving ground,” added the former Republican congressman, who was appointed by President Donald Trump.

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“The intent of course is to not just get humans to the surface of the Moon but prove that we can live and work on another world.” Pixabay

NASA is racing to enact the plans of Trump, who dispatched Vice President Mike Pence to announce that the timetable for once again putting man on the Moon had been cut by four years to 2024.

The new date is politically significant: it would be the final year in Trump’s eventual second term at the White House.

Many experts and lawmakers are concerned that NASA cannot make the deadline, especially given the major delays in development of its new heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System, which is being built by aerospace giant Boeing.

Any mission to Mars would take at least two years, given the distance to be traveled. Getting there alone would take six months, as opposed to the three days needed to reach the Moon.

A round trip to Mars can only take place when the Red Planet is positioned on the same side of the Sun as Earth — that occurs about every 26 months, so the dates are 2031, 2033, and so on.

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NASA is racing to enact the plans of Trump, who dispatched Vice President Mike Pence to announce that the timetable for once again putting man on the Moon had been cut by four years to 2024. Pixabay

In 2017, a NASA budget bill set 2033 as the target date for the first manned mission to Mars, but NASA itself has talked about the “2030s” in its roadmap.

NASA wants to learn how to extract and use the tons of ice at the Moon’s south pole.

“Water ice represents air to breathe, it represents water to drink, it represents fuel,” Bridenstine said.

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“The intent of course is to not just get humans to the surface of the Moon but prove that we can live and work on another world.”

Democratic lawmaker Eddie Bernice Johnson, the chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, asked Bridenstine to put a price tag on the new schedule.

The NASA chief said he would make his updated budget request by April 15. (VOA)