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The Once and Future Moon

Water from the Sun

17 Oct 2012, 15:37 UTC
Water from the Sun
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What is the ultimate source of the water found at the poles of the Moon? A new study of some lunar soil samples suggests a surprising answer.

The Sun exudes a constant stream of hydrogen, called the "solar wind."
New data returned from a fleet of orbiting satellites changes our perceptions of the history and processes of the Moon. Concentrated at both lunar poles, and to date the most striking discovery, is the documentation of the presence of large amounts of water. Though this water has been confirmed by several differing techniques (from multiple missions), we remain uncertain about its source. Two principal origins have been proposed: 1) water added by the in-fall of water-bearing meteorites and comets during the impact bombardment of the Moon; and 2) the manufacture of water from hydrogen implanted in the lunar soil by the wind from the Sun.
A recent discovery may shed some new light on the origin of lunar water. Researchers conducting detailed examination of tiny fragments of glass in soil returned by the Apollo astronauts found the molecule hydroxyl (OH) present in the glass. Interestingly, the isotopic composition of these OH molecules indicates the bulk of the hydrogen comes from the ...

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