• Associate Sponsor

India’s Chandrayaan-1 data helps map water on Moon

Scientists, using data from an instrument which flew aboard India's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, have created the first map of water trapped in the uppermost layer of the Moon's soil, which may prove useful to future lunar explorers.

By: PTI | Washington | Published: September 14, 2017 6:32 pm
Chandrayaan, ISRO, water on Moon, Moon soil water mapping, lunar soil, NASA, Brown University, Moon Mineralogy Mapper, lunar water signature, lunar poles, solar wind, Moon equator, Moon renewable water The study, published in the journal Science Advances, builds on the initial discovery in 2009 of water and a related ion – hydroxyl, which consists of one atom each of hydrogen and oxygen – in the lunar soil. (File Photo)

Scientists, using data from an instrument which flew aboard India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, have created the first map of water trapped in the uppermost layer of the Moon’s soil, which may prove useful to future lunar explorers. The study, published in the journal Science Advances, builds on the initial discovery in 2009 of water and a related ion – hydroxyl, which consists of one atom each of hydrogen and oxygen – in the lunar soil.

Scientists from Brown University in the US used a new calibration of data taken from NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper, which flew aboard Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft in 2008, to quantify how much water is present on a global scale. “The signature of water is present nearly everywhere on the lunar surface, not limited to the polar regions as previously reported,” said Shuai Li, former PhD student at Brown University.

“The amount of water increases toward the poles and does not show significant difference among distinct compositional terrains,” said Li, who is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Hawaii. The water concentration reaches a maximum average of around 500 to 750 parts per million in the higher latitudes. That is less than what is found in the sands of Earth’s driest deserts, researchers said.

“This is a roadmap to where water exists on the surface of the Moon,” said Ralph Milliken, an associate professor at Brown.
“Now that we have these quantitative maps showing where the water is and in what amounts, we can start thinking about whether or not it could be worthwhile to extract, either as drinking water for astronauts or to produce fuel,” said Milliken.

The researchers said that the way the water is distributed across the Moon gives clues about its source. The distribution is largely uniform rather than splotchy, with concentrations gradually decreasing toward the equator. That pattern is consistent with implantation via solar wind – the constant bombardment of protons from the Sun, which can form hydroxyl and molecular water once emplaced.

Although the bulk of the water mapped in this study could be attributed to solar wind, there were exceptions. For example, the researchers found higher-than-average concentrations of water in lunar volcanic deposits near the Moon’s equator, where background water in the soil is scarce. Rather than coming from solar wind, the water in those localised deposits likely comes from deep within the Moon’s mantle and erupted to the surface in lunar magma.

The study also found that the concentration of water changes over the course of the lunar day at latitudes lower than 60 degrees, going from wetter in the early morning and evening to nearly bone dry around lunar noon. The fluctuation can be as much as 200 parts per million. “This raises the possibility that water may re-accumulate after extraction, but we need to better understand the physics of why and how this happens to understand the timescale over which water may be renewed,” said Milliken.

For all the latest Technology News, download Indian Express App

  1. T
    TheAmerican
    Sep 15, 2017 at 4:19 am
    Sounds great. We need more water (or the building blocks) everywhere so we can travel around space with less restrictions. Good job ISRO and the Chandrayaan-1 is working fantastic.
    (0)(0)
    Reply
    1. M
      Madhavan Nair ISRO
      Sep 15, 2017 at 4:06 am
      This is a great achievement by ISRO scientists(because as a brahmin I claim other's achievements as mine. But that others must be from a foreign country not India because that is a shame for me because I don't achieve anything other than PROCURING). Because I am the brahmin Madavan Nair who claimed that ISRO has discovered water in moon while it was actually NASA's instrument in the spacecraft that actually discovered water. And then because of that NASA dropped all collaboration agreements with ISRO and I was kicked out of ISRO and was banned for life from holding any positions. And then I ordered that Indian public should not be informed that the spacecraft was lost. Only NASA announces that it has found the lost spacecraft last year. Until then nobody was informed. And then to save my stinky a s s I joined RSS after coming to know that RSS CHADDIS are experts in cleaning brahmin a s s. They are still cleaning my a s s.
      (7)(2)
      Reply
      1. F
        Falomina
        Sep 15, 2017 at 4:45 am
        You just summed up all brahmin characters. AMAZING COMMENT.
        (0)(0)
        Reply
      2. R
        Raj
        Sep 15, 2017 at 2:00 am
        Bhaiyon Hindustan ki dharti pe pani de do pahle.
        (2)(0)
        Reply
        Adda