Scientists Detect Magmatic Water on Moon's Surface
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Scientists have detected magmatic water -- water that originates from deep within the Moon's interior -- on the surface of the Moon. These findings, published in the
The discovery represents an exciting contribution to the rapidly changing understanding of lunar water, said
"For many years, researchers believed that the rocks from the Moon were 'bone dry' and that any water detected in the Apollo samples had to be contamination from Earth," said Klima, a member of the
"This surficial water unfortunately did not give us any information about the magmatic water that exists deeper within the lunar crust and mantle, but we were able to identify the rock types in and around Bullialdus crater," said co-author
In 2009, the M3, aboard the
After examining the M3 data, Klima and her colleagues found that the crater has significantly more hydroxyl -- a molecule consisting of one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom -- compared to its surroundings. "The hydroxyl absorption features were consistent with hydroxyl bound to magmatic minerals that were excavated from depth by the impact that formed Bullialdus crater," Klima writes.
The internal magmatic water provides information about the Moon's volcanic processes and internal composition, Klima said. "Understanding this internal composition helps us address questions about how the Moon formed, and how magmatic processes changed as it cooled. There have been some measurements of internal water in lunar samples, but until now this form of native lunar water has not been detected from orbit."
The detection of internal water from orbit means that scientists can begin to test some of the findings from sample studies in a broader context, including in regions that are far from where the Apollo sites are clustered on the near side of the Moon. "Now we need to look elsewhere on the Moon and try to test our findings about the relationship between the incompatible trace elements (e.g., thorium and uranium) and the hydroxyl signature," Klima said. "In some cases this will involve accounting for the surface water that is likely produced by interactions with the solar wind, so it will require integration of data from many orbital missions."
"This impressive research confirms earlier lab analyses of Apollo samples, and will help broaden our understanding of how this water originated and where it might exist in the lunar mantle," said NLSI Director
Along with Klima and Hagerty,
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