Meteorite strikes can eject water from moon

Meteorite strikes can eject water from moon

We know that some of the water must be coming from the Moon, because the mass of water being released is greater than the water mass within the meteoroids coming in. He and his colleagues detailed their findings online today (April 15) in the journal Nature Geoscience.

This is a stepping stone in understanding the history of water on the moon and how it can be used to help human space exploration missions. Much of the water excavated during these meteor showers is lost to space, meaning the Moon is steadily losing the water it does have.

Meteorites can strike the Moon and cause water to leave the ground according to a new study from U.S. space agency NASA.

The ejected water can be detected by sensitive NASA instruments on board the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft.

"Most of the geological processes we deal with in planetary science are very slow - we nearly never get to see something respond dynamically over the scale of hours like we did here", lead author Mehdi Benna, a planetary scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, told Space.com.

We traced most of these events to known meteoroid streams, but the really surprising part is that we also found evidence of four meteoroid streams that were previously undiscovered.

The remote robotic instrument was sent to the Moon to study the lunar orb's paper-thin atmosphere. For a sufficiently large impactor, this shock wave can breach the soil's dry upper layer and release water molecules from a hydrated layer below.

One explanation is ionised hydrogen carried to the Moon on solar winds from the Sun could explain the presence of water.

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The researchers suggested that meteoroid impacts kicked up these puffs of water from the moon, and said that four of these puffs were apparently caused by previously undetected meteoroid streams.

Essentially, when debris from a comet in the form of a meteoroid hits the moon, it vaporises on impact.

Richard Elphic, the LADEE project scientist at NASA's, said: "The Moon doesn't have significant amounts of H2O or OH in its atmosphere most of the time. And then, when the event was over, the H2O or OH went away", a NASA press release quoted him as saying.

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. Below this desiccated layer, the researchers suggest, water comprises up to about 0.05% of the weight of the rock up to at least 10 feet (3 meters) deep.

"It is so dry that one would need to process more than a metric ton of regolith in order to collect 16 ounces of water".

The amounts of water detected by the sensors were far too high to have come from the meteorites themselves or from vaporized soil, the researchers suggest.

Benna, who also holds a planetary scientist role at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, said water is widespread "globally" on the moon. The LADEE data, however, showed tiny impacts can briefly free up some of the moon's water.

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