Little did Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin know that, when they created the delightful children’s TV show the Clangers in the 1960s, it might not have been entirely fictional.
Okay, so probably any life that did exist on the moon during the time it was theoretically “habitable” several billion years ago probably did not communicate by whistling and survive on a diet of soup delivered by the Soup Dragon.
But the idea that there might have been any kind of life at all on the moon would have seemed almost equally ridiculous not that very long ago. The hunt for extraterrestrial life has so far found tantalising hints but nothing concrete.
The focus has been on Mars in recent years – because it is the most Earth-like of the known planets and also because of the plan to send astronauts to explore it – and perhaps we have overlooked the potential of the apparently barren moon.
Could life still be clinging on somewhere beneath the surface? Microbes in the moondust might seem small, but they could help answer one of science’s biggest questions – whether life is rare or abundant in the universe.