Volume 17, Issue 37
Future exploration of the moon seems even more likely now that new evidence was provided that a large amount of water is trapped beneath the surface of the moon.
This brings back the question of whether a moon colony could be possible now that water has been discovered on the moon.
“A study of satellite data found ancient volcanic deposits strewn across the moon’s surface contain higher amounts of trapped water compared with surrounding areas” (Gutierrez).
The study “bolsters the idea that the lunar mantle is surprisingly water-rich,” scientists from Brown University say in a press release.
The research conducted by scientists from Brown University was published on Monday, July 24, 2017 in Nature Geoscience. They studied data from India’s Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter.
The Apollo 15 and 17 missions in the early 1970s collected volcanic glass beads from the moon and brought them back to Earth, according to Newsweek. A study in 2011 of these glass beads suggested that they contained water.
The purpose of the new study was to figure out if the beads were anomalies or representative of how much water might exist on the moon, Newsweek reports.
“By looking at the orbital data, we can examine the large pyroclastic (volcanic rock fragment) deposits on the moon that were never sampled by the Apollo or Luna missions,” Ralph Milliken, Brown University associate professor and lead author of the new study, said in a news release.
“The fact that nearly all of them exhibit signatures of water suggests that the Apollo samples are not anomalous, so it may be that the bulk interior of the moon is wet.”
Though the volcanic glass beads only contained a few hundred parts per million, if that, there is a lot of volcanic material to work with, Milliken told CNN.
Some fields of the volcanic remains cover thousands of square kilometers and could be several kilometers deep, Milliken said. “It’s more water than previously recognized,” he told CNN.
A newfound source of water on the moon could “bode well for our long-held visions of a lunar base,” notes Eric Mack for CNET.
“A source of water on the moon could add to a growing undercurrent of renewed excitement about returning to the moon. Besides Moon Express, Japan, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and even (Elon) Musk are among the other big names tossing out new lunar visions.”
The private company, Moon Express’ “first prospecting efforts will be studying pyroclastic deposits on the moon, which hold unique clues to potential deposits of lunar water and other resources,” the company’s founder and CEO, Bob Richards, told Phys.org.
“Our baseline landing site for our maiden lunar expedition is an equatorial region of the moon high in pyroclastic deposits.”
The pyroclastic deposits in the study might be easier to access than previously thought, the study’s co-author, Shuai Li, told CNET.
“Anything that helps save future lunar explorers from having to bring lots of water from home is a big step forward, and our results suggest a new alternative,” he said.
The last time man walked on the moon was in December 1972 during the Apollo 17 mission.
Source: Gutierrez, Lisa. “Moon Could Contain Lots of Water, Study Suggests, Bolstering Visions of a Lunar Colony.” The Kansas City Star. The Kansas City Star, 24 July 2017. Web. 24 July 2017.