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Spectral analysis reveals Moon might have had water when it was formed

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Posted August 28, 2013
Spectral analysis reveals Moon might have had water when it was formed

Spectral analysis reveals Moon might have had water when it was formed
Scientists have learned that the lunar impact crater Bullialdus has significantly more hydroxyl — a molecule consisting of one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom — compared to its surroundings. Pictured is the central peak of Bullialdus rising above the crater floor with the crater wall in the background. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

A research team with members from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the US Geological Survey has concluded that hydroxyl molecules found in the central peak of a crater on the moon indicates that the moon likely had a water component when it was first formed. In their paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience, the researchers suggest that because the rock in which it was found likely came from deep within the moon, it’s not likely the hydroxyl was formed by solar wind flux or by other bodies striking its surface.

Bullialdus Crater is on the near side of the moon, situated near the rim of the much larger impact basin. At the center of the crater is rocky material that was pulled to the surface as the result of an impact, forming a peak. The team looked at data from M3and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Cameras available from NASA’s planetary data system, which allowed them (via spectroscopic readings) to detect the presence of hydroxyl molecules—which is considered to be a sub-structure of water molecules.

This is not the first time hydroxyl has been seen on the lunar surface, of course, but other instances have been attributed to deposits created by interactions between solar wind flux and minerals on the surface or from other bodies that collided with the moon. Prior research has shown that when hydroxyl is created or deposited on the moon, it generally sticks to cooler parts of the surface and moves as the temperature changes—the hydroxyl molecules found in the craters central peak, however, do not move, indicating they are embedded, which the researchers interpret to mean that they were part of the rock that was pushed up from below when the crater was formed. They also noted that there was no evidence of hydroxyl anywhere else near the crater.

Read more at: Phys.org

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