According to new study based on data from India’s Chandrayaan-1 mission and NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), Moon’s water may be widely distributed across its surface and not confined to particular region or type of terrain.
The results contradict some earlier studies, which had suggested that more water was detected at Moon’s polar latitudes and that strength of water signal waxes and wanes according to the lunar day (29.5 Earth days).
In this study, researchers had analysed data from Moon Mineralogy Mapper spectrometer onboard Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. They came up with new way for incorporating important temperature information and created detailed model from measurements made by Diviner instrument on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).
The new finding suggests that water may be present primarily as OH, a more reactive form of normal water (H2O). OH also called hydroxyl does not stay in its form for long, and attaches itself chemically. This OH molecule needs to be extracted from minerals in order to be used as water. The results indicate that OH or H2O on moon is created by solar wind hitting lunar surface. It is also believed that OH or H2O may have come from Moon itself, after it is slowly released from deep inside minerals locked since Moon was formed.
The new findings can help researchers to understand origin of Moon’s water and how easy it would be to use as resource. If there is enough water on Moon and is reasonably convenient to access, then future explorers might be able to use it as drinking water or convert it into hydrogen and oxygen for rocket fuel or oxygen to breathe.