Sci­en­tists map wa­ter across Moon’s soil

Iran Daily - - Science & Technology -

For the first time, sci­en­tists have mapped the dis­tri­bu­tion of wa­ter across lu­nar soil.

The new Moon map could help sci­en­tists at NASA iden­tify the ideal spot for a fu­ture lu­nar colony or re­search fa­cil­ity, UPI wrote.

Sci­en­tists cal­i­brated data col­lected by NASA’S Moon Min­er­al­ogy Map­per to de­ter­mine how much wa­ter and hy­droxyl, a re­lated mol­e­cule, is present be­neath the lu­nar sur­face.

Re­searcher Shuai Li said, “The sig­na­ture of wa­ter is present nearly ev­ery­where on the lu­nar sur­face, not lim­ited to the po­lar re­gions as pre­vi­ously re­ported.

“The amount of wa­ter in­creases to­ward the poles and does not show sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence among dis­tinct com­po­si­tional ter­rains.”

Li con­ducted the re­search while doc­toral stu­dent at Brown Univer­sity, but now works as a post­doc­toral re­searcher at the Univer­sity of Hawaii.

The Moon isn’t flush with wa­ter, by any means. The wettest lu­nar soil, found in the Po­lar Re­gions, host just 500 to 750 parts per mil­lion — less than the dunes of Earth’s dri­est deserts.

Still, if you’re look­ing to es­tab­lish a lu­nar out­post, some wa­ter is bet­ter than no wa­ter.

Ralph Mil­liken, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor at Brown, said, “This is a roadmap to where wa­ter ex­ists on the sur­face of the Moon.

“Now that we have these quan­ti­ta­tive maps show­ing where the wa­ter is and in what amounts, we can start think­ing about whether or not it could be worth­while to ex­tract, ei­ther as drink­ing wa­ter for as­tro­nauts or to pro­duce fuel.”

The new map of­fers clues as where the Moon’s wa­ter came from. Most wa­ter and hy­droxyl mol­e­cules were de­posited by so­lar wind, but a few de­posits have unique ori­gins.

The map re­vealed higher con­cen­tra­tions of wa­ter in vol­canic de­posits near the equa­tor, sug­gest­ing wa­ter was brought to the sur­face as magma erupted from the deep-ly­ing man­tle.

Data from the Moon Min­er­al­ogy Map­per also showed lower lu­nar lat­i­tudes get wet­ter in the morn­ing and drier in the evenings.

Mil­liken said, “We don’t know ex­actly what the mech­a­nism is for this fluc­tu­a­tion, but it tells us that the process of wa­ter for­ma­tion in the lu­nar soil is ac­tive and hap­pen­ing to­day. “This raises the pos­si­bil­ity that wa­ter may re-ac­cu­mu­late af­ter ex­trac­tion, but we need to bet­ter un­der­stand the physics of why and how this hap­pens to un­der­stand the timescale over which wa­ter may be re­newed.” In­ter­ac­tions be­tween so­lar winds and the lu­nar soil could ex­plain the mi­gra­tion of wa­ter across the Moon’s sur­face. Some sci­en­tists be­lieved there is a sig­nif­i­cant amount of wa­ter locked up in the form of ice hid­ing in the bot­tom of lu­nar craters, but the Moon Min­er­al­ogy Map­per can’t an­a­lyze parts of the lu­nar sur­face that re­main per­ma­nently dark. Mil­liken said, “Those ice de­posits may in­deed be there, but be­cause they are in shad­owed ar­eas it’s not some­thing we can eas­ily con­firm us­ing these data.” Re­searchers pub­lished their new map and anal­y­sis in the jour­nal Science Ad­vances.

the con­cen­tra­tions The new map re­veals Moon’s soil. of wa­ter UPI trapped in the

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