Scientists Confirm Presence of Earth’s Oxygen on the Moon

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. particle / ˈpɑr tɪ kəl / (n) – a tiny piece of something

    The particles were too small that we needed a microscope to see them.

  2. trace / treɪs / (n) – a small amount of a chemical

    There were traces of insecticide in the leaf.

  3. sample / ˈsæm pəl / (n) – a certain amount of a substance that allows its source to be studied

    There are soil samples in the lab.

  4. charged / tʃɑrdʒd / (adj) – having electricity

    The sun gives off charged particles.

  5. lunar / ˈlu nər / (adj) – referring to the moon

    The lunar mission aimed to make a map of the moon.


Read the text below.

Scientists have confirmed that the moon has been receiving oxygen particles from Earth for billions of years now.

Previous space missions have discovered traces of oxygen in the moon’s atmosphere and soil. It is believed that some of this oxygen is native to the moon, while the rest comes from heavenly bodies like the sun. Now, scientists have discovered that some of the moon’s oxygen also comes from Earth.

In 2007, a spacecraft called Kaguya recorded changes in the moon for two years. Scientists found that there were different types of oxygen ions in the moon. Upon analyzing the oxygen samples, they found that some of these ions match those found in Earth’s atmosphere.

Furthermore, the data showed that the moon’s oxygen levels rose whenever Earth moved between the sun and the moon.

Kentaro Terada, one of the scientists involved in the project, explained that this happens because oxygen ions from Earth travel to the moon with the help of solar wind. Solar wind, a stream of charged particles from the sun, travels through space and brings oxygen from the sun to the moon’s surface. However, for five days in a month, Earth blocks the solar wind’s path. When this happens, oxygen ions from Earth’s atmosphere get caught in the solar wind and are transported to the moon. During this time, only oxygen from Earth reaches lunar surface.

Scientists are hopeful that this discovery will help understand how water is formed on the moon. In addition, they also believe that oxygen ions from Earth’s early years are still trapped in the moon’s soil, and studying these may reveal valuable information about the history of life on Earth.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think it is necessary to dig up the moon’s soil for more oxygen samples? Why or why not?
• Do you believe that it is important to understand other heavenly bodies (e.g. planets, moons, stars)? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Would you rather stay on Earth or live in another habitable planet? Why?
• If the moon was habitable, would you want to live on it? Why or why not?