Meteoroid strikes eject precious water from Moon

Matt Cardy Getty Images

Matt Cardy Getty Images

Meteorites can strike the Moon and cause water to leave the ground according to a new study from U.S. space agency NASA.

When NASA astronauts first landed on the Moon in 1969, they saw a desiccated world, bone-dry and devoid of any life-giving water. To continue this measure of misfortune after some time, they recommended that this water either was available when the moon shaped, about 4.5 billion years back, or was conveyed by enormous effects from water-loaded shakes not long after the moon was conceived. The LADEE spacecraft detects these water molecules as they enter the tenuous lunar atmosphere, with peaks in the water signal correlating to known meteor showers on Earth. The amount of water released depends on the size and frequency of impact but the discovery could solve a decades-old mystery.

Right beneath the surface is a thin "transition" layer of soil, followed by a hydrated where molecules of water are glued to the Moon's regolith or rocky soil. The analysts proposed that meteoroid impacts kicked up these puffs of water from the moon, and said that four of these puffs were evidently brought about by already undetected meteoroid streams.

In February 2018, a study found by the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado water in the form of OH - a more reactive relative of H2O - all over the lunar surface. To find out additional, specialists broke down information from NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), which circled the moon from October 2013 to April 2014.

By analyzing the amount of water released by meteoroid streams of different sizes, the scientists estimated that the uppermost 3.15 inches (8 centimeters) of lunar soil is dehydrated - any less, and smaller meteoroids would have excavated more water.

From the measurements of water in the exosphere, the researchers calculated that the hydrated layer has a water concentration of about 200 to 500 parts per million, or about 0.02 to 0.05 percent by weight.

Two-third of the vapor escapes into space, while one-third lands back on the surface of the moon.

LADEE found "sufficiently large" meteor strikes breached the upper levels of the Moon's soil enough to release water from lower, hydrated levels. Much of the water excavated during these meteor showers is lost to space, meaning the Moon is steadily losing the water it does have.

The amounts of water detected by the sensors were far too high to have come from the meteorites themselves or from vaporized soil, the researchers suggest. The analysis indicates that meteoroid impacts release water faster than it can be produced from reactions that occur when the solar wind hits the lunar surface.

"We know that some of the water must be coming from the Moon, because the mass of water being released is greater than the water mass within the meteoroids coming in", said the second author of the paper, Dana Hurley of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

NASA is leading a sustainable return to the Moon with commercial and worldwide partners to expand human presence in space and bring back new knowledge and opportunities.

Notícias recomendadas

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.