Monday, November 30, 2009

Moon water poses research insights

H2O on lunar body a 'big surprise to most astronomers,'
A&M lecturer says

Melissa Appel
The Battalion Online

Forty years after space exploration first placed a man on the moon, scientists are still uncovering new insights into the lunar body.

A mission by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration fired two spacecraft into the surface of the moon on Nov. 13 and discovered a substantial amount of water in a polar crater.

These results followed an experiment in September when three spacecraft used light spectrum to show evidence of water on the moon surface. The equipment worked by picking up the wavelengths of light reflected by the molecules and matching it to a known water molecule fingerprint of spectrum. This experiment was a joint effort featuring NASA's

Cassini spacecraft and Deep Impact probe alongside India's Chandrayaan-1 satellite.

This information shows possibility and intrigue for scientists in the field.

"We used to think that the moon couldn't possibly have any water, so this finding is a big surprise to most astronomers, including me," said Texas A&M Department of Physics and Astronomy lecturer Kevin Krisciunas.

The data from the two expeditions showed water was in the polar craters, where some scientists had previously mused it could be, and along the entire surface of the moon. Evidence of water molecules and hydroxyl molecules - a water molecule missing one hydrogen atom - was picked up by the spectrometers used in the September experiment across the lunar surface.

By crashing into the polar crater, the spacecraft caused a reflux of more than 25 gallons of water. The water was found in the forms of both vapor and ice.

With such a surprising announcement, many were questioning what this means for the possibility of life on the moon and other planets.

"The finding of water to me simply means that some comets have collided with the Moon's south pole region," Krisciunas said. "Since a comet nucleus is a bunch of rocks and dust held together by ices, a certain fraction of the ices might be [water]. A certain fraction of the Earth's water came from such collisions. It stands to reason that the moon was hit by similar projectiles. Water is good for life, but you also need the right kind of atmosphere and the right temperature for life to originate."

Read the story HERE.


Tychocrater said...

Why is there surprise at this? Water in polar craters has been expected since 1960 - finally we have confirmation. As for substantial - that is yet to be seen.
Chuck Wood

Joel Raupe said...

An excellent point, Chuck. I think it's big surprise to everyone who anchored their attitudes toward the Moon after those first preliminary findings were released, was it 40 years ago? Everybody likes to think their at the center of things, and I think it was Eric Hoffer who wrote "given freedom, most choose conformity."

We waited a long time to hear NASA had been too hasty in 1969 when it was announced that the Moon was dryer than any desert on Earth. Now, Tony Coleprete said, at least at the Centaur impact site it is "wetter than the driest desert on Earth."

Through rugged ways...

Term Papers said...

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