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NASA’s Spacecraft Observes Water Molecules Movement on Moon

The lunar water is more common at higher latitudes and tends to hop around as the surface heats up

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This Dec. 29, 1968, photo made available by NASA shows craters on the moon. For the past 290 million years, giant rocks from space have been crashing into Earth more than twice as often as they did in the previous 700 million years, according to a new study. VOA

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter(LRO) spacecraft has observed water molecules moving around the dayside of the Moon, a finding that may prove beneficial as the agency plans to put astronauts back on the lunar surface.

Lyman Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) — the instrument aboard LRO — measured sparse layer of molecules temporarily stuck to the Moon’s surface, which helped characterise lunar hydration changes over the course of a day, revealed the paper published in Geophysical Research Letters.

“The study is an important step in advancing the water story on the Moon and is a result of years of accumulated data from the LRO mission,” said John Keller, LRO deputy project scientist from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland.

Until the last decade, scientists thought that the Moon was arid, with any water existing mainly as pockets of ice in permanently shaded craters near the poles.

More recently, they identified surface water in sparse populations of molecules bound to the lunar soil, or regolith.

The moon is seen near the Illimani mountain during a full lunar eclipse in La Paz, Bolivia, July 27, 2018. Photo: Reuters.

But, the amount and locations were found to vary based on the time of day. The lunar water is more common at higher latitudes and tends to hop around as the surface heats up.

Scientists had hypothesised that hydrogen ions in the solar wind may be the source of most of the Moon’s surface water. As a result, when the Moon passes behind the Earth and is shielded from the solar wind, the “water spigot” should essentially turn off.

However, the water observed by LAMP does not decrease when the Moon is shielded by the Earth and the region influenced by its magnetic field, suggesting water builds up over time, rather than “raining” down directly from the solar wind.

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“These results aid in understanding the lunar water cycle and will ultimately help us learn about accessibility of water that can be used by humans in future missions to the Moon,” said lead author Amanda Hendrix, a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute.

“Lunar water can potentially be used by humans to make fuel or to use for radiation shielding or thermal management; if these materials do not need to be launched from Earth, that makes these future missions more affordable,” Hendrix added. (IANS)

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Live Broadcast of Meteor Shower to Be Available on NASA Meteor Watch Facebook Page

Across the Northern Hemisphere, sky watchers will be treated to a stunning array of meteors streaking overhead from late Sunday into early Monday

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Meteor Shower, Live, NASA
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via Email Print this page Comments Science & Health Perseid Meteor Shower to Peak This Week By VOA News August 11, 2019 11:09 PM A photographer sets up his camera hoping to document the universal phenomenon of the Perseid Meteor Shower, in the Valley of Whales, in Fayoum, Egypt, Aug. 12, 2017. (H. Elrasam/VOA) A photographer sets up his camera hoping to document the universal phenomenon of the Perseid Meteor Shower, in the Valley of Whales, in Fayoum, Egypt, Aug. 12, 2017. VOA

The best meteor shower of the year is upon us.

Across the Northern Hemisphere, sky watchers will be treated to a stunning array of meteors streaking overhead from late Sunday into early Monday, as well as Monday night into early Tuesday.

The Perseids occur when Earth enters the debris field left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle. The Earth entered the debris field in late July, but this weekend will be the peak, with as many as 50 meteors streaking by every hour. The Earth will exit the debris field in late August.

According to NASA, a live broadcast of the meteor shower from a camera in Huntsville, Alabama, will be available on the NASA Meteor Watch Facebook page after 8 p.m. EDT Sunday (0000 UTC Monday).

Meteor Shower, Live, NASA
The best meteor shower of the year is upon us. Pixabay

For best viewing, NASA recommends going away from bright city lights to darker areas.

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The meteors can be seen in all directions, NASA says. And all you need are your eyes; no binoculars or telescopes required. People should give their eyes about 30 minutes to adjust to the dark, NASA adds. (VOA)