Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Solar wind particles likely source of water locked inside lunar soils

15.10.2012
The most likely source of the water locked inside soils on the moon's surface is the constant stream of charged particles from the sun known as the solar wind, a University of Michigan researcher and his colleagues have concluded.

Over the last five years, spacecraft observations and new lab measurements of Apollo lunar samples have overturned the long-held belief that the moon is bone-dry.

In 2009, NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing satellite, known as LCROSS, slammed into a permanently shadowed lunar crater and ejected a plume of material that was surprisingly rich in water ice. Water and related compounds have also been detected in the lunar regolith, the layer of fine powder and rock fragments that coats the lunar surface.

But the origin of lunar surface water has remained unclear. Is it mainly the result of impacts from water-bearing comets and other chunks of space debris, or could there be other sources? Theoretical models of lunar water stability dating to the late 1970s suggest that hydrogen ions (protons) from the solar wind can combine with oxygen on the moon's surface to form water and related compounds called hydroxyls, which consist of one atom of hydrogen and one of oxygen and are known as OH.

In an article published online Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience, U-M's Youxue Zhang and colleagues from the University of Tennessee and the California Institute of Technology present findings that support solar-wind production of water ice on the moon.

The first author of the paper is Yang Liu of U-T. She is a U-M alumna who earned her doctorate under Zhang, who is a professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

In the paper, the researchers present infrared spectroscopy and mass spectrometry analyses of Apollo samples that reveal the presence of significant amounts of hydroxyl inside glasses formed in the lunar regolith by micrometeorite impacts.

When combined, the techniques of Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and secondary ion mass spectrometry can be used to determine the chemical form of the hydrogen in a substance, as well as its abundance and its isotopic composition. Most of the infrared spectroscopy work was done at Zhang's U-M lab, and the mass spectroscopy was conducted at Caltech.

"We found that the 'water' component, the hydroxyl, in the lunar regolith is mostly from solar wind implantation of protons, which locally combined with oxygen to form hydroxyls that moved into the interior of glasses by impact melting," said Zhang, the James R. O'Neil Collegiate Professor of Geological Sciences.

"Lunar regolith is everywhere on the lunar surface, and glasses make up about half of lunar regolith. So our work shows that the 'water' component, the hydroxyl, is widespread in lunar materials, although not in the form of ice or liquid water that can easily be used in a future manned lunar base."

The findings imply that ice inside permanently shadowed polar craters on the moon, sometimes called cold traps, could contain hydrogen atoms ultimately derived from the solar wind, the researchers report.

"This also means that water likely exists on Mercury and on asteroids such as Vesta or Eros further within our solar system," Liu said. "These planetary bodies have very different environments, but all have the potential to produce water."

The regolith glasses are called agglutinates, and the study reported in Nature Geoscience is the first to identify agglutinates as a new reservoir of OH on the moon—an "unanticipated, abundant reservoir" of OH and water in the lunar regolith, according to the authors.

The researchers analyzed individual grains from Apollo 11 mare soil, Apollo 16 highland soil and Apollo 17 mare soil. The grains included agglutinates and impact glasses.

In addition to Liu and Zhang, authors of the Nature Geoscience report are Yunbin Guan, George Rossman and John Eiler of Caltech and Lawrence Taylor of U-T.

The work was funded in part by NASA cosmochemistry grants to Taylor and Zhang, by support from the Moore Foundation to the Caltech Microanalysis Center, and by a National Science Foundation grant to Rossman. A portion of the study was also supported by U-T's the Planetary Geosciences Institute .

Jim Erickson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.umich.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland
19.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

nachricht Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle
17.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland

19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Not of Divided Mind

19.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Molecule flash mob

19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>