Researchers create first global map of water in Moon's soilSeptember 13, 2017
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] -- In research that may prove useful to future lunar explorers, scientists from Brown University have created the first quantitative map of water and its chemical building blocks trapped in the uppermost portion of the Moon's soil.
The study, published in Science Advances, builds on the initial discovery in 2009 of water and a related molecule -- hydroxyl, which consists of one atom each of hydrogen and oxygen -- in the lunar soil. The latest study uses a new calibration of data taken from NASA's Moon Mineralogy Mapper, which flew aboard India's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, to quantify how much water is present on a global scale.
"The signature of water is present nearly everywhere on the lunar surface, not limited to the polar regions as previously reported," said the study's lead author, Shuai Li, who performed the work while a Ph.D. student at Brown University and is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Hawaii. "The amount of water increases toward the poles and does not show significant difference among distinct compositional terrains."
The water concentration reaches a maximum average of around 500 to 750 parts per million in the higher latitudes. That's not a lot -- less than is found in the sands of Earth's driest deserts -- but it's also not nothing.
"This is a roadmap to where water exists on the surface of the Moon," said Ralph Milliken, an associate professor at Brown and Li's co-author. "Now that we have these quantitative maps showing where the water is and in what amounts, we can start thinking about whether or not it could be worthwhile to extract, either as drinking water for astronauts or to produce fuel."
The researchers say that the way the water is distributed across the Moon gives clues about its source. The distribution is largely uniform rather than splotchy, with concentrations gradually decreasing toward the equator. That pattern is consistent with implantation via solar wind -- the constant bombardment of protons from the sun, which can form hydroxyl and molecular water once emplaced.
Although the bulk of the water mapped in this study could be attributed to solar wind, there were exceptions. For example, the researchers found higher-than-average concentrations of water in lunar volcanic deposits near the Moon's equator, where background water in the soil is scarce. Rather than coming from solar wind, the water in those localized deposits likely comes from deep within the Moon's mantle and erupted to the surface in lunar magma. Li and Milliken reported those findings separately in July of this year.
The study also found that the concentration of water changes over the course of the lunar day at latitudes lower than 60 degrees, going from wetter in the early morning and evening to nearly bone dry around lunar noon. The fluctuation can be as much as 200 parts per million.
"We don't know exactly what the mechanism is for this fluctuation, but it tells us that the process of water formation in the lunar soil is active and happening today," Milliken said. "This raises the possibility that water may re-accumulate after extraction, but we need to better understand the physics of why and how this happens to understand the timescale over which water may be renewed."
Li says that laboratory research could be useful in better understanding these kinds of processes. "We hope this motivates the planetary community to continue lab experiments to understand the interaction of solar wind with the lunar soil and possible mechanisms for how water migrates across the lunar surface on these relatively short timescales," he said.
As useful as the new maps may be, they still leave plenty of unanswered questions about lunar water. The Moon Mineralogy Mapper, which supplied the data for the research, measures light reflected off of the lunar surface. That means that it can't look for water in places that are permanently shadowed from the sun's rays. Many scientists think these permanently shadowed regions, such as the floors on impact craters in the Moon's polar regions, could hold large deposits or water ice.
"Those ice deposits may indeed be there," Milliken said, "but because they are in shadowed areas it's not something we can easily confirm using these data."
It's also not clear how deep into the soil the water mapped in the study goes.
"We're only sensing the upper millimeter or so of soil, and we can't say for sure what the water content is like underneath that," Milliken said. "The distribution of water with depth could make a big difference in terms of how much water is actually there."
Still, the researchers say, the study provides a good starting point for thinking about how lunar water resources might be utilized.
"It remains to be seen whether extraction could be feasible," Milliken said. "But these results show us what the range of water availability across the surface is so we can start thinking about where we might want to go to get it and whether it makes economic sense to do so."
Related Solar Wind Articles:
Scientists from India and Portugal recreate solar turbulence on a table top using a high intensity ultrashort laser pulse to excite a hot, dense plasma and followed the evolution of the giant magnetic field generated by the plasma dynamics.
The challenge of predicting space weather, which can cause issues with telecommunications and other satellite operations on Earth, requires a detailed understanding of the solar wind (a stream of charged particles released from the sun) and sophisticated computer simulations.
The sun emitted a trio of mid-level solar flares on April 2-3, 2017.
To meet skyrocketing demand for electricity, African countries may have to triple their energy output by 2030.
An international research team centered at Indiana University have engineered a molecule that uses light or electricity to convert the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide -- a carbon-neutral fuel source -- more efficiently than any other method of 'carbon reduction.' The discovery, reported today in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, is a new milestone in the quest to recycle carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere into carbon-neutral fuels and others materials.
While Minnesota's state energy policies have been a large driver in the shift from fossil fuels to renewables, the federal Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit have played a major role in shaping the state's clean energy economy while keeping rates affordable for utility customers, according to a new report from the University of Minnesota Energy Transition Lab.
Chemists have discovered that one or more organic compounds in a family that traditionally has been known as pollutants could offer an important advance to make cheap, reliable batteries.
Researchers from the University of New Hampshire have captured unique measurements of the Van Allen radiation belts, which circle the Earth, during an extremely rare solar wind event.
A new study from the United States Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory used high-performance computing capabilities and innovative visualization tools to model, in unprecedented detail, how the power grid of the eastern United States could operationally accommodate higher levels of wind and solar photovoltaic generation.
Saving up excess solar and wind energy for times when the sun is down or the air is still requires a storage device.
Related Solar Wind Reading:
The Great Transition: Shifting from Fossil Fuels to Solar and Wind Energy
by Lester R. Brown (Author), Emily Adams (Contributor), Janet Larsen (Contributor), J Matthew Roney (Contributor)
The great energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy is under way.As oil insecurity deepens, the extraction risks of fossil fuels rise, and concerns about climate instability cast a shadow over the future of coal, a new world energy economy is emerging. The old economy, fueled by oil, natural gas, and coal is being replaced with one powered by wind, solar, and geothermal energy.
The Great Transition details the accelerating pace of this global energy revolution. As many countries become less enamored with coal and nuclear power,... View Details
Off-Grid Living: How To Build Wind Turbine, Solar Panels And Micro Hydroelectric Generator To Power Up Your House: (Wind Power, Hydropower, Solar Energy, Power Generation)
by Andy Anderson (Author), Arnold Thompson (Author), David Shwarz (Author)
Getting Your FREE Bonus
Download this book, read it to the end and see "BONUS: Your FREE Gift" chapter after the conclusion.Off-Grid Living: How To Build Wind Turbine, Solar Panels And Micro Hydroelectric Generator To Power Up Your House (FREE Bonus Included) Book 1: Go Off Grid And Go Green With Micro Hydro System: How A Micro Hydro System Can Provide Your Off-Grid Home With Electricity
When we think of renewable energy, most of us think solar or wind, but another choice does exist, hydroelectric. Using water for power goes back to water wheels and culminates in... View Details
Solar, Wind and Land: Conflicts in Renewable Energy Development
by Troy A. Rule (Author)
The global demand for clean, renewable energy has rapidly expanded in recent years and will likely continue to escalate in the decades to come. Wind and solar energy systems often require large quantities of land and airspace, so their growing presence is generating a diverse array of new and challenging land use conflicts. Wind turbines can create noise, disrupt views or radar systems, and threaten bird populations. Solar energy projects can cause glare effects, impact pristine wilderness areas, and deplete water resources. Developers must successfully navigate through these and myriad... View Details
Wind, Solar, and Geothermal Power: From Concept to Consumer (Calling All Innovators: a Career for You)
by Steven Otfinoski (Author)
"Learn about the history of alternative energy and find out what it takes to make it in this exciting career field."-- View Details
Do-it-Yourself Solar and Wind Energy System: DIY Off-grid and On-grid Solar Panel and Wind Turbine System
by Eric Layton (Author)
Eric Layton, an engineer in the solar industry who installs solar panels, wrote this guide for readers that are trying to build their own solar or wind system. Using pictures, this do-it-yourself (DIY) solar and wind system was built with a battery back-up system. His new book is a comprehensive guide on the design, thought process, equipment, and technique on designing this DIY system. Using photographs taken throughout the building process, he covers why he chose certain components in addition to any issues building and installing. This book was written to help fellow solar and wind... View Details
Oracle - Solar Wind (Volume 4)
by CW Trisef (Author)
Change is in the air. Just days after adding the third element (ore) to the Oracle’s first two (earth and fire), Lionel betrays Ret before world leaders, blaming him for our planet’s recent catastrophes. Then Lye enacts sore revenge on the Coopers. The mounting burdens finally become too much for Ret, and he abandons his destiny to “cure the world.” But the Oracle has much more to teach our young hero, even powers unseen. Wisdom finds Ret in the Arctic wilderness, where an old foe becomes a new friend and where a phenomenon in the sky illuminates Ret’s path. Meanwhile, however, Mr.... View Details
Wind and Solar Power Systems: Design, Analysis, and Operation, Second Edition
by Mukund R. Patel (Author)
The search for clean, renewable energy sources has yielded enormous growth and new developments in these technologies in a few short years, driving down costs and encouraging utilities in many nations, both developed and developing, to add and expand wind and solar power capacity. The first, best-selling edition of Wind and Solar Power Systems provided the most complete and modern treatment of renewable energy. This second edition continues the tradition by offering updated and expanded coverage of this growing field.
The book begins with individual sections devoted to wind power and... View Details
Basics of the Solar Wind (Cambridge Atmospheric and Space Science Series)
by Nicole Meyer-Vernet (Author)
The Sun continually ejects matter into space, blowing a huge bubble of supersonic plasma. This solar wind bathes the whole solar system and shapes all planetary environments. The growth of space technology has considerably increased our knowledge of this medium. This 2007 book presents an introduction to the subject, starting with basic principles and including all the latest advances from space exploration and theory. It contains a short introduction to plasma physics and discusses the structure of the solar interior and atmosphere, the production of solar wind and its perturbations. It... View Details
Solar and Wind Power: The Basics
by AM Photonics
Want to understand the basics of solar and wind energy before you build your own system? If so, this is the book you need. You'll learn the difference between energy and power, how power is related to current and voltage, and how current is related to voltage and resistance. You'll learn about all the different parts of an alternative energy system, what their purpose is, and how they are wired. You'll also lean how to calculate the size system you need. Finally, you'll even learn where to place your solar array and what tilt angle to use. If you already have the knack for these things,... View Details
Shifting from Fossil Fuels to Solar and Wind Energy The Great Transition (Paperback) - Common
by Lester R. Brown and Emily Adams (Author)
New View Details