Scientists Used Data from NASA’s Satellite to Learn Moon’s Water Cycle

Scientists Used Data from NASA’s Satellite to Learn Moon’s Water Cycle


Researchers have spotted water molecules moving around the dayside of the Moon. They used an instrument present on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The U.S. space agency said the approach that could assist them in knowing about the availability of water that can be used by humans in the upcoming missions on Moon. From a long period of time scientists believed that water does not exist on the Lunar surface. There were only small sacks of ice near its poles. Before a decade, the scientists discovered the presence of water on the Moon’s surface, but they found it mixed into the lunar soil (regolith). According to the new information from LRO, the water on the Lunar surface moves in a complex cycle.

There’s an instrument LAMP (Lyman Alpha Mapping Project) aboard LRO. It uses ultraviolet light to search for water in deep polar craters of the Moon. It is capable of identifying minor changes that take place in a very thin layer of molecules. In short, it can determine the movement of water particles. Thus the researchers were aware of the fact of regolith. But they did not perceive the reason behind the presence of water at various times and in different regions of the Moon.

The research published in Geophysical Research Letters, explains the lunar hydration changes taking place across the day. The scientists came to know that the amount and area of water depend on the time of the day. Though, it heats up while moving around the lunar surface. During the lunar noon, when the temperature is at the highest peak, the water molecules are released from the regolith. As a result, they either hop to a nearby cold location or evaporate in the thin atmosphere. As soon as the temperature drops again, the water molecules present in the atmosphere come back on the lunar surface. Amanda Hendrix, a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute and leading author of the study, said the data assist in understanding the lunar water cycle. He added, in future lunar water can be used to produce fuel or to insulate radiation or thermal management.

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