NASA-funded lunar research conducted by NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI) on 27 August 2013 unveiled about the evidence of water which was locked in the mineral grains on the surface of the moon from unknown source that was present beneath the surface of the Moon.
The scientists remotely detected about the presence of magmatic water, using the data from NASA's Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) instrument aboard the Indian Space Research Organization's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. Magmatic water is the water which has the source of origin from within the interior of the moon or on the surface of Moon. The findings represented the first detection of this form of water on the Moon. The previous studies had shown existence of the magmatic water in the lunar samples which were brought on the Earth by the Apollo program.
M3 instrument imaged the lunar impact crater Bullialdus. The Bullialdus lies near lunar equator. The scientists wanted to study this particular area because it would have enabled them to quantify the amount of water in the rocks, in a better form. The crater’s location as well as the kinds of rocks on it enabled the scientists to get a better understanding about this. The central peak of Bullialdus is composed of the kind of rock which forms deep inside the lunar crust and mantle when magma is captured underground.
Rachel Klima, a planetary geologist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md, explained that the rock which usually lives beneath the surface was excavated from the depths of the lunar surface. In comparison with its surroundings, it was found that central portion of Bullialdus contained considerable amount of hydroxyl - a molecule consisting of one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom. This proved that the rocks in the Bullialdus contained water which had the source somewhere beneath the surface of the Moon.
In the year 2009, M3 had provided the first mineralogical map of the lunar surface. It had also discovered the water molecules in polar areas of the Moon. The water found on the lunar surface is considered to be the thin layer formed from solar wind which hits the Moon. Bullialdus crater lies in the region with unfavorable environment for solar wind in order to produce huge amounts of water on lunar surface.
The detection of water from lunar orbit will enable the scientists to test some other findings from sample studies in much broader sense. For years, scientists believed that rocks from the Moon were dry and that there was no water. The water detected in Apollo samples was thought to be contaminated from Earth.
Who conducted the research?
APL or Applied Physics Laboratory is the non-profit division of Johns Hopkins University. The paper which described about the detected of water on the Moon was co-authored by Joshua Cahill and David Lawrence of APL and Justin Hagerty of the U.S. Geological Survey's Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona.
The research was supported by NASA's Lunar Advanced Science and Engineering Program, the NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI) at Ames and the NASA Planetary Mission Data Analysis Program. NLSI is the virtual organization jointly funded by NASA's Science Mission Directorate and NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate in Washington.