The ‘crying’ moon: Small meteors are hitting the surface

Small meteors which crash into the moon cause it to leak water from the lunar subsoil, according to NASA scientists.

They suggest that the subsurface moisture that is being released has been retained since the Moon formed, or soon after.

These findings may lay the groundwork for future investigation into the origin and fate of water on the Moon.

The researchers estimate that meteorite impacts on the Moon cause the loss of as much as 200 tonnes of water per year.    

The impacts hit soil which is dry 3 inches (8cm) deep underneath which is a layer with about 0.05% water content which is spewed out on impact. 

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Small meteors which crash into the moon cause it to leak water from the lunar subsoil, according to NASA scientists. They suggest that the subsurface moisture that is being released has been retained since the Moon formed, or soon after

Small meteors which crash into the moon cause it to leak water from the lunar subsoil, according to NASA scientists. They suggest that the subsurface moisture that is being released has been retained since the Moon formed, or soon after

A decade ago, trace amounts of water were found on the surface of the Moon, and not only in polar ice deposits as previously thought. 

Researchers have attributed the origin water to solar wind and meteorites. However, the source and extent of these water traces have been debated. 

Using an intrument on aboard NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), planetary scientist Doctor Mehdi Benna said that it picked up ‘high anomalously high and episodic amounts of water in the lunar atmosphere’. 

The LADEE orbited the Moon from October 2013 to April 2014 and its detections coincided with 29 meteor streams.

These findings may lay the groundwork for future investigation into the origin and fate of water on the Moon. The researchers estimate that meteorite impacts on the Moon cause the loss of as much as 200 tonnes of water per year (stock)

These findings may lay the groundwork for future investigation into the origin and fate of water on the Moon. The researchers estimate that meteorite impacts on the Moon cause the loss of as much as 200 tonnes of water per year (stock)

Dr Benna and her team studied the amount of water released by meteor streams of different sizes.

They were then able to determine that the uppermost 8 cm of lunar soil is dehydrated. #Below this, they calculate that water is uniformly present at concentrations up to about 0.05 per cent. 

The full findings were published in Nature Geoscience

WHAT OTHER EVIDENCE HAS BEEN FOUND FOR WATER ON THE MOON?

A number of researchers have made claims that water may be found on the moon, either above or below its surface or in its soil, by future visitors.

Such discovery could mean future lunar colonies could harvest water on the moon without having to bring it with them from Earth.

They could also convert it into hydrogen and oxygen for rocket fuel or oxygen to breathe, scientists claim. 

In February 2018, a study found by the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado water in the form of OH – a more reactive relative of H2O – all over the lunar surface.

In September 2017, experts created the first map of water and its building blocks trapped in the uppermost portion of the Moon’s soil.

They claimed that water in this form is present nearly everywhere on the lunar surface. 

A separate study that month, showed that the surface of the moon holds more water than we thought.

It suggests the interior of our natural satellite could hold a deep reservoir of water.

This finding bolsters the idea that the lunar mantle is surprisingly water-rich, which could make colonising it for future space exploration much easier.

 

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