Water On The Moon Produced By The Solar Wind

October 14, 2012 in Space

The solar wind appears to be the source of the water that has been found on the moon, according to new research. The water that is locked inside the lunar soils was very likely formed from the interaction of oxygen particles on the moon’s surface with the charged particles streaming from the sun, researchers from the University of Michigan have suggested.


The discovery of water on the moon was fairly recent; during just the last five years, numerous spacecraft observations and new analysis’s of the lunar samples taken by Apollo missions “have overturned the long-held belief that the moon is bone-dry.”

NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing satellite (LCROSS) was crashed into a permanently shadowed lunar crater in 2009, ejecting a plume of lunar material that was very dense with water ice. And the lunar regolith itself has been shown by various means to contain water, the regolith is what covers the lunar surface, a very fine layer of dust and rock fragments.

The source of this water has remained a debated point though. The primary theories have been that it was deposited by comets or other space debris. But theoretical models of “lunar water stability dating to the late 1970s suggest that hydrogen ions (protons) from the solar wind can combine with oxygen on the moon’s surface to form water and related compounds called hydroxyls, which consist of one atom of hydrogen and one of oxygen and are known as OH.”

But in the new research, infrared spectroscopy and mass spectrometry analyses of lunar samples taken by Apollo have shown that there are significant amounts of hydroxyl inside the glasses that are present in the samples. These glasses were created in the samples by micrometeorite impacts on the moon.

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