July 11, 2008
As if recent reports of Mercurian rock-water weren't exciting enough, H20 has been detected from an unlikely source even closer to home: Moon Volcanoes. Yes, that's water from Moon Volcanoes, and anybody who says science is boring doesn't know what the hell they're talking about.
For years the scientific opinion of satellite matched what you'd expect from the moon mission images - a barren, dusty plain that makes the Sahara look like the sixth great lake.
The moon was believed to be utterly dehydrated, constantly baked to hundreds of degrees by direct solar radiation and with gravity too weak to hold any atmosphere. Any moisture would have to be delivered by cometary impact and then hidden in shadowed craters.
Recent results from a collaboration of American universities have changed all that. All previous studies on moon samples had a minimum moisture sensitivity of fifty parts per million; it turns out the precious water was hiding down at the forty-six per million mark. Analysing samples of volcanic glass beads with the new technique of Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS) the bashful water was finally detected.
The distribution of H20 in the samples is consistent with the original material being relatively rich in water, about as much as the Earth's upper mantle, but the volcanic processes causing 95% of it to be lost. While most would have escaped into space, some is thought to have collected at the lunar poles in shadowed regions. Ready-made ice-banks just waiting to be tapped by future lunarnauts.
Posted by Luke McKinney.
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Source: Lunar Water