Research suggests that a Mars-sized object smashed into the Earth in the solar system's early days, leading to the creation of the moon we all know today. The surface of the moon looked quite different in its early days; instead of the boring, cratered rock surface, it was covered in magma that erupted into the sky like "Old Faithful."
Scientists have discovered a strange factor in the moon's volcanic past: carbon monoxide. According to Alberto Saal, a geologist from Brown University, "the carbon is the one that is producing the largest spectacle. With a little bit of water, with a little bit of sulfur, but the main driver is carbon." The combination of volatile elements is similar to the known concentrations here on Earth that is responsible for a large amount of volcanism.
The surface of the moon appears dull, but upon closer inspection, it is covered with volcanic glass that is a remnant of the early volcanic days. A new analysis of the volcanic glass on the moon suggests that carbon was widely distributed throughout the early moon, and reacted with oxygen to form carbon monoxide as the magma rose.
The eruptions were not unlike opening a can of soda as molten rock migrated from the center of the moon to the surface, it released large amounts of pressurized gas along with some of the liquid.
Carbon monoxide was the missing piece to the puzzle of explaining the moon's geologic past. Now, scientists are able to explain the chemical reactions that led to the eruptions that dazzled the early solar system.