Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Moon's metallic water

The LCROSS Shepherding Spacecraft Mid-Infrared Camera (MIR) captured this false-color image of the Centaur impact ejecta plume about 20 seconds after impact, October 9, 2009 [NASA/ARC/LCROSS].

Bill Steigerwald

NASA Goddard

Bring a filter if you plan on drinking water from the moon. Water ice recently discovered in dust at the bottom of a crater near the moon's south pole is accompanied by metallic elements like mercury, magnesium, calcium, and even a bit of silver. Now you can add sodium to the mix, according to Dr. Rosemary Killen of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Recent discoveries of significant deposits of water on the moon were surprising because our moon has had a tough life. Intense asteroid bombardments in its youth, coupled with its weak gravity and the Sun's powerful radiation, have left the moon with almost no atmosphere. This rendered the lunar surface barren and dry, compared to Earth.

However, due to the moon's orientation to the Sun, scientists theorized that deep craters at the lunar poles would be in permanent shadow and thus extremely cold, and able to trap volatile material like water as ice if such material were somehow transported there, perhaps by comet impacts or chemical reactions with hydrogen, a major component of the solar wind.

The October 9, 2009 impact of NASA's Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) spacecraft into the permanently shadowed region of the Cabeus crater confirmed that a surprisingly large amount of water ice exists in this region, along with small amounts of many other elements, including metallic ones.

Read the full feature, HERE.

No comments: