Moon may have been has been since 4 billion years ago

The moon could have supported life billions of years ago, according to new research.

A study published in the journal Astrobiology has found that simple lifeforms could have survived on the lunar surface during two periods 3.5 and 4 billion years ago.

The study was conducted by two scientists, Professor Dirk Schulze-Makuch, an astrobiologist at Washington State University, and Professor Ian Crawford of Birkbeck, University of London.

They believe the moon must have been spewing out so much super-heated volatile gas, including water vapour, during these periods that it could have sustained life.

"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," Professor Schulze-Makuch said.
Earth rises above the horizon of the moon, as seen by the crew of the Apollo 8 mission, December 1968. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Image: Organisms could have been transported from Earth to the moon via a meteorite
It is also believed that the early moon had a magnetosphere - a magnetic field which would have deflected the sun's deadly electromagnetic radiation - similar to Earth's.

Professor Schulze-Makuch says life could have originated in the same way it did on Earth - with self-replicating molecules becoming more and more complex while continuing to reproduce.
However, he believes the more likely scenario is that life would have been brought in by a meteorite.

The earliest evidence for life on Earth is of fossilised bacteria that are between 3.5 and 3.8 billion years old - a time when the solar system was being bombarded by meteorites.

Professor Schulze-Makuch believes it is possible a meteroite could have blasted off Earth and transported similar life to the moon.
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