New Finding - Water Deposits on the Moon

32 ounces of water out of one ton of lunar soil

These images show a very young lunar crater on the far side of the moon, as viewed by NASA's Moon Mineralogy Mapper on the Indian Space Research Organization's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. On the left is an image showing brightness at shorter infrared wavelengths. On the right, the distribution of water-rich minerals (light blue) is shown around a small crater. Both water- and hydroxyl-rich materials were found to be associated with material ejected from the crater.

These images show a very young lunar crater on the far side of the moon, as viewed by NASA's Moon Mineralogy Mapper on the Indian Space Research Organization's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. On the left is an image showing brightness at shorter infrared wavelengths. On the right, the distribution of water-rich minerals (light blue) is shown around a small crater. Both water- and hydroxyl-rich materials were found to be associated with material ejected from the crater.

From its perch in lunar orbit, M3's state-of-the-art spectrometer measured light reflecting off the moon's surface at infrared wavelengths, splitting the spectral colors of the lunar surface into small enough bits to reveal a new level of detail in surface composition. When the M3 science team analyzed data from the instrument, they found the wavelengths of light being absorbed were consistent with the absorption patterns for water molecules and hydroxyl.

"For silicate bodies, such features are typically attributed to water and hydroxyl-bearing materials," said Carle Pieters, M3's principal investigator from Brown University, Providence, R.I. "When we say 'water on the moon,' we are not talking about lakes, oceans or even puddles. Water on the moon means molecules of water and hydroxyl that interact with molecules of rock and dust specifically in the top millimeters of the moon's surface.

The M3 team found water molecules and hydroxyl at diverse areas of the sunlit region of the moon's surface, but the water signature appeared stronger at the moon's higher latitudes. Water molecules and hydroxyl previously were suspected in data from a Cassini flyby of the moon in 1999, but the findings were not published until now.

"The data from Cassini's VIMS instrument and M3 closely agree," said Roger Clark, a U.S. Geological Survey scientist in Denver and member of both the VIMS and M3 teams. "We see both water and hydroxyl. While the abundances are not precisely known, as much as 1,000 water molecule parts-per-million could be in the lunar soil. To put that into perspective, if you harvested one ton of the top layer of the moon's surface, you could get as much as 32 ounces of water."

For additional confirmation, scientists turned to the Epoxi mission while it was flying past the moon in June 2009 on its way to a November 2010 encounter with comet Hartley 2. The spacecraft not only confirmed the VIMS and M3 findings, but also expanded on them.

"With our extended spectral range and views over the north pole, we were able to explore the distribution of both water and hydroxyl as a function of temperature, latitude, composition, and time of day," said Jessica Sunshine of the University of Maryland. Sunshine is Epoxi's deputy principal investigator and a scientist on the M3 team. "Our analysis unequivocally confirms the presence of these molecules on the moon's surface and reveals that the entire surface appears to be hydrated during at least some portion of the lunar day."

Source: NASA, JPL, Science
» print article
Related articles:
Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 1968. That evening, the astronauts--Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders--held a live broadcast from l
January 21, Los Altos Hills, California

Prospecting for Water on the Moon

» go to article
Illustration of the collision theory. A body the size of Mars probably hit the young Earth. As a result, material from the rocky mantle of the celestial body and of the Earth was hurled into space. This collected in the shape of a ring on a path closely orbiting the Earth, where it then gradually 'clumped together' to form the Moon.
Small Big Bang

How was the Moon created?

» go to article
Artist Concept of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter with Apollo mission imagery in the background.
Nasa Moon Mission Update

LRO Enters Orbit Around the Moon

» go to article
NASA's LRO and LCROSS spacecraft on top of the Atlas V rocket launch from Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
NASA returns to the Moon

NASA Returning to the Moon with First Lunar Launch in a Decade

» go to article
Artist Concept of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter with Apollo mission imagery in the background.
Basic facts about LRO

NASA's journey back to the Moon starts Thursday

» go to article
The picture was taken by the spacecraft Galileo as it flew past the Moon in 1990. Galileo was able to observe the Moon’s surface from an angle that is not possible from the Earth, due to the fact that the same side of the Moon always faces the Earth.
Story of the dark side

The 'Dark Side' of the Moon

» go to article
Search
Astronomy Software

Redshift Android

Redshift for Android

The award winning Astronomy Software Redshift for Android. » more

Redshift Pro

Redshift Pro - Astronomy for iOS

The most advanced Redshift app » more

Redshift Astronomy

Redshift - Astronomy for iOS

The award winning Astronomy Software Redshift for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. » more

Redshift Discover Astronomy deutsch

Redshift Compact - Discover Astronomy for iOS

The beginners version of the leading astronomy App Redshift » more

Redshift 8 Premium

Redshift 8 Premium - Download Edition (Multilingua Edition)

Explore the universe from your PC with the award-winning and professional planetarium software - Languages: German, English, French
 » more

Redshift 8 Premium DL deutsch/engl 2

Redshift 8 Premium - Update from older versions

Update from Redshift 7 or older to the current version of the professional planetarium software - Languages: German, English, French
 » more

Redshift 8 Compact

Redshift 8 Compact - Download Edition

The professional planetarium software for beginners » more