Scientists have cast doubt on a major part of the case for the Moon having once held abundant water.

A US team studied a mineral called apatite, which is found in a variety of lunar rock types.

Apatite, the name for which comes from a Greek word meaning deceit, may have misled scientists into thinking the Moon is wetter than it actually is.

Lead author Jeremy Boyce said: “We thought we had a great indicator, but it turns out it’s not that reliable.”

Initial analysis of the lunar rocks brought back to Earth by the Apollo missions suggested the Moon was “bone dry”