Researchers studying data gathered from an instrument which went aboard Chandrayaan-1, an Indian spacecraft, have made the first map of water held in the topmost layer of the Moon’s soil, giving ground for future lunar scientists.
The previous research
The study published in Science Advances, foots on the recent discovery in 2009. The discovery has it that a water-related molecule, hydroxyl, and water is made up of an oxygen and hydrogen in the Moon’s soil. The researchers from Brown University made use of a recent calibration of data gathered from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper by NASA, which went to space in 2008 to ascertain the amount of water available on a global scale.
A former Ph.D. student at the Brown University, Shuai Li said the signature of water could be found everywhere on the moon surface, and it’s not restricted to the polar regions as was reported initially. Li went on to say that the amount of water goes high toward the polar region and doesn’t show striking differences among different compositional terrains.
An associate professor at Brown University, Ralph Milliken said the water concentration gets to a maximum average range of 500-700 PPM in the higher latitudes. That is below what is seen in the sands of the driest deserts of the Earth. Milliken said that is a descriptive way to where water exists on the moon surface.
Milliken added that researchers can now hone their focus on analyzing if it’s worthwhile to extract the water for astronauts or as fuel since the quantitative maps describe where and what quantity o water is available.
The scientist said the distribution of the water across the moon gives insight about its sources, and the water distribution is much more uniform with concentrations reducing toward the equator.
Although the large quantity of water mapped can be traced to solar wind, exceptions still exit. For instance, the researchers observed concentrations more than average in lunar volcanic deposits close to the moon’s equator, where underlying water in the soil is not rampant.