New data about water on the Moon


20/03/2010

Until recently it was believed that the moon - one of the driest places in the solar system. But then "flowed" messages about water on the moon - first talked about a bit of water on the surface of the moon, then the tens of liters in a single crater, and now report the 600 million tons of water, which is 40 craters near the lunar north pole.

"We thought that we understand the moon, but it is not so" - said Paul Spudis (Paul Spudis) of the Lunar and Planetary Institute (Lunar and Planetary Institute), - "It is obvious that the water there exists in various geological conditions and concentrations. Who would have assume that there will come a day when we will discuss seriously Moonlight hydrosphere? ".

Paul Spudis - leading the team issledovalel NASA Mini-SAR team - a group that made the last major discovery of water on the moon. Radar Mini-SAR, located in the Indian Chandrayaan-1 probe (Chandrayaan-1) detected 40 craters, each of which is ice, a minimum height of 2 meters.

Right: Map of the Lunar North Pole radar Mini-SAR. Craters marked with green circles, contain significant deposits of frozen water (click for full image).

"If you had a number of rocket fuel, equal to the amount of water found in these craters, then you would have had it up to run one space shuttle per day for 2,000 years. However, our observations provide an answer to only a portion of intriguing questions about the processes occurring on the moon.

We are talking about the so-called lunar water cycle. This theory is based on data that were obtained from different sources such as radar Mini-SAR, automated spacecraft LCROSS (Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite) and the unit M3 (Moon Mineralogy Mapper) on board the Indian probe "Chandrayaan-1" .

"So far we’ve found three types of lunar water," - said Spudis - "Thick Lens Mini-SAR radar found nearly pure crater ice, LCROSS found a mixture of ice crystals and dirt, and found a thin layer of M3 which then appears and disappears over the entire surface the moon. "

October 9, 2009 LCROSS came across the water in a cold crater, where sunlight does not enter and which is at the south pole of the moon. Scientists have not bothered enough by parsing the received then from LCROSS data.

"It appears that at least two different layers of soil contain water of the crater, and they represent two different time epochs," - said Anthony Colaprete (Anthony Colaprete), senior researcher on the project LCROSS, - "The first layer is extracted in the first, 2 seconds after the same contact include water and hydroxy mixed with minerals in the mixture even found clear ice pieces. this primer layer covers the thin film is a relatively "fresh", presumably newly formed ".

Above: The blue color shows a thin layer of minerals with a high content of water around a young Lunar crater.

Anthony Colaprete said that this type of lunar water is similar to the water M3 discovered the device last year. This water is contained in a very small concentration, but is very common on the rocks, in the dust and in the upper millimeter layer of lunar soil.

The second layer is different from the first. "It contains even more water ice plus a variety of other compounds, which we did not expect to see there," he said. "At the moment we discovered Sulphur dioxide (SO2), methanol (CH3OH) and interesting organic molecule diacetylene (H2C4). This layer lies at about 0.5 meters below the Moon, and probably older than the ice found on the surface."

It is not clear why some craters contain pure ice, and the other a mixture of ice and mud. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the Moon Water has several origins.

"Some part was created directly on the Moon" - said Spudis - "The protons in the solar wind could continuously generate a small amount of water in contact with metal oxides in the rocks. But some part of the water on the Moon, perhaps arrived at the Moon from other places in the solar system. "

Right: steam rising from the crater Cabeus October 9, 2009, after the LCROSS vrealsya into the crater.

The moon is under constant bombardment from space, which increases the amount of water on the moon. Asteroids contain hydrated minerals, and the nuclei of comets are composed of almost pure ice.

Scientists also believe that a large amount of water in the craters migrates from warmer southern latitudes to the poles. "Our data suggest the existence of the water cycle on the moon," said Colaprete.

Just think about it, it was once considered "one of the driest places in the solar system", is a water cycle.

"There’s a whole different world," - said Spudis - and we know about it is still very small. Who knows what discoveries lie ahead? "Only for you the most interesting news on the pages of our portal.

Original: Science.nasa.gov


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