Earth Has Been Sneezing Biogenic Oxygen on the Moon for Billions of Years


Themenbild
Themenbild: NASA
The Moon may be liberally sprinkled with oxygen created by life on Earth, according to new research published Monday in Nature Astronomy. This opens up the possibility that “the Earth’s atmosphere of billions of years ago may be preserved on the present-day lunar surface,” in the words of the paper’s authors, led by Osaka University planetary scientist Kentaro Terada.

By Becky Ferreira | MOTHERBOARD

The notion that Earth has been periodically sneezing its sky stuff on the Moon, spraying it with the exhalations of now-extinct lifeforms, is not entirely new. Previous teams have suggested that nitrogen and noble gases embedded in the Moon’s soil originated on Earth.

But Terada and his co-authors are the first to present evidence that oxygen, an essential ingredient and byproduct of terrestrial life, is regularly peppered all over the Moon’s surface.

The team used data collected by the Japanese Kaguya spacecraft in 2008 to show that Earth-brand oxygen ions can make this giant leap during a special five day period in the satellite’s orbit, when Earth is located between the Sun and the Moon.

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