The moon was covered by a giant amount of oxygen produced terrestrial plants and microbes, and subsequently “ripped” from the Earth’s atmosphere by the solar wind, say astronomers.
In recent years, scientists have begun to actively discuss the hypothesis of panspermia – the idea that life could be brought to Earth or other planet from space. It in 1903, formulated the famous Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius, but until recently it has not been seriously considered.
The situation has changed after the experiments on Board the Russian series biosatellites “Bion-M”, has proven the possibility of survival of microbes in the fall of the meteorite on Earth. In addition, American scientists have shown that fossils of terrestrial life could be “embossed” with the surface of the Earth by asteroids and thrown into space, whence came the moon, Mars and other planets.
Kentaro Terada (Terada Kentaro) from the University of Osaka (Japan) and his colleagues have found the first possible traces of life on the moon, studying data collected by the Japanese lunar probe “Kaguya” during its operation in orbit, the companion of the Earth.
How to tell the scientists, in April 2008, the “Kaguya” was in an unusual point of the orbit – it was actually on a straight line crossing the Sun, the Earth, the probe itself and the moon behind it. This allowed Japanese scientists for the first time to see how the interaction of the solar wind – a flow of hot plasma emitted by the sun, Earth’s atmosphere could affect the moon in the past affect today.
Measurements were carried out using ion sensors “Kaguya”, unexpectedly showed that the solar wind, despite the fact that the Earth is protected from a powerful magnetic “shield” takes a large number of ions and molecules of oxygen from the atmosphere.
Shares of heavy and light isotopes, and oxidation state of ions, according to scientists, unmistakably give them typically the earth’s oxygen, and oxygen is biogenic in origin, synthesized by microbes, algae or plants. This discovery, says Terada, explained one of the oldest mysteries of the moon.
According to scientists, the first measurements of the composition of the lunar soil showed that it contained a lot of “heavy” oxygen, which must be extremely small in the solar wind plasma. It turned out his source is the Earth, whose atmosphere “bombards” the moon and more oxygen every time, when our planet’s covering the moon from the Sun.
In total, by estimates of authors of the article, in 4.4 billion years that have passed since the birth of the planets in the Solar system, the moon were about 106 million tons of the earth’s oxygen. As the scientists, is a very conservative estimate, as in the past the Earth and Moon were closer to each other, and the magnetic shield of the Earth were not so strong.
The study of deposits of oxygen on the moon, as the researchers note, may help to know how they were arranged the Earth’s atmosphere in the past, find out when the first photosynthetic organisms and how changing the concentration of the main elements of life in the last few billion years.