There is A Lot of Water on the Moon - Why Has NASA Waited Years to Say So?

Keith's Update: There are actually three articles that will be in Science tomorrow - one paper each describing results from Deep Impact aka EPOXI, Cassini, and Chandrayaan-1. Three different spacecraft - three different instruments - all saying the same thing about the presence of water and other materials on the Moon.

The EPOXI (Deep Impact) paper ("Temporal and Spatial Variability of Lunar Hydration as Observed by the Deep Impact Spacecraft", Sunshine et al) says that water has been "unequivocally" confirmed and that "the entire lunar surface is hydrated during at least some portions of the lunar day".

In another paper, previously unreleased 1999 flyby data from Cassini ("Detection of Adsorbed Water and Hydroxyl on the Moon", Roger N. Clark) shows hydroxyl concentrations on "the sunlit face of the Moon". Water was detected in concentrations as high as "10 to 1,000 parts per million" and according to the paper "Regardless of its origin, water is found on the lunar surface in areas previously thought to have been depleted in volatiles."

The Chandrayaan-1 paper ("Character and Spatial Distribution of OH/H2O on the Surface of the Moon Seen by M3 on Chandrayaan-1", C. M. Pieters et al) says "... Modeled abundance could be as high as 770 ppm (20), but is dependent on particle size, and the total abundance of hydrated material in the bulk upper regolith would be substantially smaller if hydration is not retained during regolith gardening. ... data suggests that the formation and retention of OH and H2O is an ongoing surficial process. OH/H2O production processes may feed polar cold traps and make the lunar regolith a candidate source of volatiles for human exploration."

It would seem that NASA has been sitting on a lot of data confirming with regard to the Moon - in some cases, for years. Meanwhile, a lot of people are trying to downplay the importance of these findings in and around NASA at the same time it would seem that the Moon has been revealed as being much more useful than had been previously released publicly. SMD has some explaining to do. Stay tuned.

Water on the Moon?, Nature

"That's not all. Early results from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), launched on 18 June, are offering a wide array of watery signals. Increasingly, lunar scientists are confident that the decades-long debate is over. The Moon, in fact, has water in all sorts of places: not just locked up in minerals, but scattered throughout the broken-up surface, and, potentially, in blocks or sheets of ice at depth."

It's not lunacy, probes find water in moon dirt, AP

"We argued literally for months amongst ourselves to find out where the problem was," Pieters said. Sunshine, who was on the team, had a similar instrument on NASA's Deep Impact probe, headed for a comet but swinging by the moon in June. So Deep Impact looked for the water-hydroxyl signature and found it. Scientists also looked back at the records of NASA's Cassini probe, which is circling Saturn. It has the same type instrument and whizzed by the moon ten years ago. Sure enough, it had found the same thing. The chance that three different instruments malfunctioned in the same way on three different spaceships is almost zilch, so this confirms that it's water and hydroxyl, Pieters said."

Keith's Update: Interesting ... Cassini made this discovery a decade ago - and yet NASA did not even know that it had done so. Just goes to show you that new discoveries can be found in old data.

Earlier posts below

Keith's 21 Sep 5:49 pm EDT note: Reliable sources report that there will be a press conference at NASA HQ at 2:00 pm this Thursday featuring lunar scientist Carle Pieters from Brown University. The topic of the press briefing will be a paper that will appear in this week's issue of Science magazine wherein results from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) aboard Chandrayaan-1 will be revealed. The take home message: there is a lot of water on the Moon. Stay tuned.

NASA to Reveal New Scientific Findings About the Moon, NASA

"NASA will hold a media briefing at 2 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Sept. 24, to discuss new science data from the moon collected during national and international space missions. NASA Television and the agency's Web site will provide live coverage of the briefing from the James E. Webb Memorial Auditorium at NASA Headquarters, 300 E St. SW, in Washington. ... The briefing participants are: ... Carle Pieters, principal investigator, Moon Mineralogy Mapper, Brown University ..."

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on September 23, 2009 3:00 PM.

Boeing and Bigelow Team on NASA CCDev Proposal was the previous entry in this blog.

Bolden Speaks On NASA's Future Path - Or Did He? is the next entry in this blog.

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