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Water on the Moon

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 October 2016

Yvonne J. Pendleton*
Affiliation:
NASA Ames Research Center, Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute, Director Mail Stop 17-1, Moffett Field, CA 94035 email: yvonne.pendleton@nasa.gov
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Abstract

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After years of thinking the Moon is dry, we now know there are three manifestations in which water appears on the Moon today: 1) Previously hypothesized buried deposits of volatiles at the lunar poles were found at Cabeus crater. There are questions about the origin of such volatiles (i.e., in-falling comets & meteorites, migration of recently formed surficial OH/H2O, and accumulated release from the interior), but there is no doubt the water is there. 2) Widespread, thinly-distributed, surficial OH (or H2O) has been clearly detected across all types of lunar terrain. The consensus is that the OH is derived from solar wind, but we do not know how quickly it forms, nor how mobile it is. 3) The amount of water present soon after the Moon formed is now documented in new analyses of lunar materials in volcanic glass beads, apatites and plagioclase feldspars. Apollo era sample analyses were not precise enough to distinguish between indigenous lunar water and terrestrial contamination. Measurements with modern equipment are more precise (both elemental and isotopic), and can better constrain a host of processes (e.g. diffusion, thermal cycling). Scientists around the world are studying lunar water. Ongoing analyses are informing a number of hypotheses and theories about the connection between the Earth and its wet Moon.

Type
Contributed Papers
Copyright
Copyright © International Astronomical Union 2016 

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