Today, the surface of the moon is dry, dusty and uninhabitable – but in its distant past, our satellite might have had pools of water on the surface… and alien life.
In fact, there are two times in the moon’s early history when there could have been life on the surface, Washington State University researchers say.
During those periods, there might have been pools of liquid water on the surface – where life could have thrived.
The research centred on two periods: just after the moon formed from a debris disc four billion years ago, and during a peak in lunar volcanic activity around 3.5 billion years ago.
During both periods, planetary scientists think the moon was spewing out large quantities of superheated volatile gases, including water vapor, from its interior.
‘It looks very much like the moon was habitable at this time,’ said lead author Dirk Schulze-Makuch.
‘There could have actually been microbes thriving in water pools on the moon until the surface became dry and dead.’
Schulze-Makuch hopes that future moon missions could determine if life arose on the moon – or arrived from elsewhere.
One promising line of inquiry for any future space missions would be to obtain samples from deposits from the period of heightened volcanic activity to see if they contained water or other possible markers of life.