Thursday, March 1, 2018

Water on the Moon May Be Widely Distributed on Lunar Surface

Article Written By: Kyle Tam


 A new study published in the journal Nature Geoscience suggests that water may be more prevalent on the lunar surface than previously thought. However, it is believed that much of it may be present in hydroxyl form (OH).
 There has been long debate as to the nature of water on the Moon. The main caveat of past studies is that water detection is based off of remote-sensing instruments that measure the strength of sunlight reflected off of the lunar surface. This normally would not be a problem, however the Moon is also capable of emitting its own light, that of infrared radiation near the wavelength emitted by water.
 To overcome this problem, the study created a detailed model from measurements made by the Diviner instrument on NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). Applying this model to data gathered previously by India's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, data was returned suggesting widespread and relatively immobile water in the form of a hydroxyl (OH), a reactive relative of H2O.
 “The next step is to determine whether it’s water, OH, or a mixture of the two — and where it came from,” said co-author Dr. Michael Poston, a researcher at the Southwest Research Institute.“Is it from external sources, delivered by comet or asteroid impacts? Is it from internal processes on the Moon itself, such as ancient volcanism? Or could it be an ongoing process of the solar wind reacting with lunar materials to create OH or H2O?”

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