Water Released from Moon During Meteor Showers

James Marshall
April 16, 2019

However, the scientists working on the project have rejected the idea that all of the detected water on Earth's natural satellite comes from meteoroids."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", the second author of the research, Dana Hurley from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, said.

The researchers estimate that meteorite impacts on the Moon cause the loss of as much as 200 tonnes (220 tons) of water per year.

Researchers say the water originated on the moon due to a combination of solar wind and meteor tires bringing it to the barren surface. To free up the buried water, researchers estimated the meteoroid stream would have to penetrate at least three inches.

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.

When scientists surveyed data collected by NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, a lunar orbiter, they were able to connect brief spikes in atmospheric water vapor levels with meteoroid streams. When a speck of comet debris strikes the moon it vaporizes on impact, creating a shock wave in the lunar soil.

Scientists have already known that Titan has a cycle similar to Earth's water cycle - except instead of water, these liquid hydrocarbons are what get pooled in its oceans, evaporated into the atmosphere, and rained back down again.

They found that water spiked in the thin lunar atmosphere at the same times the Moon found itself being pummeled by meteor streams.

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

Below this, they calculate that water is uniformly present at concentrations up to about 0.05 per cent.

The research means that trace amounts of water are dispersed across the surface of the Moon, which could be of huge interest and value to future space exploration missions. Researchers have mapped the presence of water in the lunar soil, as well as captured images of ice on the surface of the lunar poles. Hydroxyl, a highly reactive relative of H2O, is also present on the moon.

They claimed that water in this form is present almost everywhere on the lunar surface. And luckily, we've also now discovered that the Moon, far from being a waterless rock, is in fact simply hiding water beneath its surface. So this finding was disappointing for the hazy plans of future lunar outposts, but not immediately concerning.

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