What if the Moon was more than just a lifeless rock? Under that bright light, it could be hiding an alien civilization. When did this alien life begin on the Moon? What would these lunar-dwellers breathe? And what would our neighbors look like?

Until Galileo showed up on the scene with his telescope, all we knew about the Moon was that it was bright and shiny. While we certainly know more now, its origins are still a mystery. Yeah, we still don’t know how the Moon became, well, the Moon. Some scientists think a chunk of the Earth broke off 4.5 billion years ago after a violent collision with another planet.

All the debris eventually came together to form this body. And the Moon landing in 1969 did more than inspire humanity to reach the stars. It made this rock something real to humans everywhere. But we didn’t stay for long. So what if the astronauts missed something big up there? The lunar surface is a rough place to live.

Without an atmosphere, there’s no protection from the Sun’s radiation. Or even a way to keep oxygen on the ground. But maybe it wasn’t always like this. After that piece of Earth broke off, microscopic life like cyanobacteria could’ve survived in this harsh environment. We call this the panspermia theory, the idea that life can be transferred by meteoroids, asteroids or even spaceships.

Considering the Moon orbits us in the habitable zone, there could’ve been a time billions of years ago when it had fresh water. And volcanic activity could’ve released the gases needed to sustain life. So why isn’t life there now? Well, who’s to say it’s not? When these conditions existed, the Moon could’ve incubated life for hundreds of millions of years before humans existed.

While dinosaurs roamed our planet, it could’ve been teeming with life that would look stranger than some of those behemoths. The Moon’s magnetic field is a fraction as powerful as the Earth’s. So over millions of years, solar winds stripped away all of its atmosphere. And with nothing to protect it, life on the surface would have to adapt to survive the Sun’s intense rays.

On Earth, melanin in our skin protects us from ultraviolet rays. But instead of having a darker skin tone, the Moon aliens could have developed new colors. Carotenoids are organic pigments found in vegetables like carrots. And they contain cells that protect against skin cancer.

If the aliens evolved to have carotenoids instead of melanin, they might have tough orange skin that would resist the dangerous UV rays around them. And the differences don’t end there. Since the Moon’s gravity is only one-sixth of that on Earth, these aliens could get around by jumping or gliding. But without an atmosphere holding oxygen on the surface, what would these creatures breathe?

Even with an atmosphere that’s only one hundredth as thick as ours, that doesn’t mean life can’t exist. Recently, scientists have found a parasite that doesn’t need oxygen to live. Maybe over millions of years, these beings could have evolved in the same way, without breathing, well, anything.

While this diversity of life might exist on the surface, you couldn’t say the same for the lunar oceans. I mean, if they existed. While the average ocean on Earth goes down 3.7 km (2.3 mi), the Moon’s seas would only have a depth of 1 km (0.6 mi). There’s not much that could be found in these waters. But if life did exist on the Moon, how would that have changed our history?

If these aliens had evolved before humanity, they might have visited us before we landed on the Moon. And if they had waited until after the space race, the increasing tensions of the Cold War might have never happened. Instead, humans could have united in fear over an invasion from a superior lifeform.

The militaries around the globe would have deployed countermeasures to asses the threats these visitors pose. And as scientists and politicians try to communicate to our celestial neighbors, everyone else would be hunkered down, bracing for the worst.

Sharing our corner of the Solar System with a much more advanced civilization might be overwhelming, but it’s either that or an all-out war. And considering how much more evolved these aliens are, we might want to think of a peaceful solution. Hey, we might get along so well that eventually, our two species could become one.

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