India Confirms Existence of Water on Moon

The moon has and had water. That’s the conclusion scientists who used data gathered by India’s first lunar mission to determine there may be widespread moisture locked in lunar soils.

India’s Chandrayaan-1, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, and the agency’s Deep Impact probe have all detected, in upper few millimeters of the moon’s surface contains molecules of water, or H2O, and hydroxyl (OH) — an indication that water formation may be an ongoing process at the moon’s surface, the researchers said today in the journal Science.

“When we say ‘water on the moon,’ we are not talking about lakes, oceans or even puddles,” the study’s lead author, Carle Pieters, a planetary geologist at Rhode Island’s Brown University, said. “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.”

This significant finding will lead the way for astronauts to harvest water from the moon’s surface.

Discovering the substance, containing water, would be like finding a goldmine due to the fact that sending a bottle to moon costs $50,000.

“NASA wants to set up a permanent base on the moon, and they want to live off the land,” Colin Pillinger, professor of planetary science at the U.K.’s Open University in Milton Keynes said today in a phone interview. “To do that, they need water.”

Origin of Water

Since billions of years, Craters at the lunar poles haven’t been exposed to sunlight. This is the reason why they are believed to have temperatures of minus 328 degrees Fahrenheit (-200 degrees Celsius). Hence, the conclusion of  presence of water ice in those dark areas.

The long lived theory, now, showed some evidence to the concept. As many as 770 water molecules could be present in every million molecules in the thin top layer of the moon’s soil.

Brown University stated the proportion could be as-high-as 1,000 / million. The basis of the study was the data gathered by the Moon Mineralogy Mapper instrument aboard India’s Chandrayaan-1 craft.

“The data obtained from these instruments show there is evidence of water,” S. Satish, a spokesman for the Indian Space Research Organization ISRO)

The researchers concluded the most likely origin of the water is as a result of the so-called solar wind, laden with charged hydrogen particles, impacting with the oxygen-rich lunar soil.

M3, The mapper instrument, analyzed the way sunlight reflects off the lunar surface to determine the materials that constitute the soil, according to a statement from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, which participated in the study.

History of Water detection on Moon

Water was first suspected to be present on Moon by NASA’s Lunar Prospector craft in 1998. Trace amounts of water detected in rocks shipped back from the moon by Apollo missions 40 years ago were attributed to contamination from the Earth’s air because the boxes housing the samples had leaks, according to the University of Tennessee.

“The isotopes of oxygen that exist on the moon are the same as those that exist on Earth, so it was difficult if not impossible to tell the difference,” Larry Taylor, a co-author of today’s paper, said in the university’s statement. “Since the early soil samples only had trace amounts of water, it was easy to make the mistake of attributing it to contamination.”

Last year, researchers at Brown analyzed volcanic glasses recovered by the Apollo 15 mission, finding evidence of water, which they said must have had its origins deep inside the moon.

” But nothing was as clear as what we saw today” said a scientist from NASA.

Water detection is the first step, second would be experimenting and water production third goes to the evolution of life on Moon. Are you Ready?

source: bloomberg, theRegister

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