Sunday, July 13, 2008

Water? On the moon? And what else?

Was there always water on the moon?
In a paper published in the July 10 issue of the journal Nature, the team, led by Alberto Saal, assistant professor of geological sciences at Brown, believes that the water was contained in magmas erupted from fire fountains onto the surface of the Moon more than 3 billion years ago. About 95 percent of the water vapor from the magma was lost to space during this eruptive “degassing,” the team estimates. But traces of water vapor may have drifted toward the cold poles of the Moon, where they may remain as ice in permanently shadowed craters.

NASA plans to send its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter later this year to search for evidence of water ice at the Moon’s south pole. If water is found, the researchers may have figured out the origin.
And if there was water on the moon, who knows what else we might find?

(Note: The image of the volcanic glasses collected by the Apollo 15 space mission is from NASA. Apparently. Saal's team's analysis detected water.)