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For the first time, a cross-disciplinary study has shown chemical, physical, and material evidence for water formation on the moon. Two teams from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa collaborated on the project: physical chemists at the UH Mānoa Department of Chemistry's W.M. Keck Research Laboratory in Astrochemistry and planetary scientists at the Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP).
Although recent discoveries by orbiting spacecraft such as the Lunar Prospector and the hard lander Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite suggest the existence of water ice at the poles the moon, the origin of this water has remained uncertain. Lunar water represents one of the key requirements for permanent colonization of the moon as a feedstock for fuel and energy generation (hydrogen, oxygen) and also as "drinking water."
Breakthrough - Research - Formation - Liberation - Water
The breakthrough research is outlined in "Untangling the formation and liberation of water in the lunar regolith," lead-authored by UH Manoa postdoctoral fellow Cheng Zhu and colleagues in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Chemistry Professor Ralf I. Kaiser and HIGP's Jeffrey Gillis-Davis designed the experiments to test the synergy between hydrogen protons from solar wind, lunar minerals, and micrometeorite impacts. Zhu irradiated samples of olivine, a dry mineral that serves as a surrogate of lunar material, with deuterium ions as a proxy for solar wind protons.
Water - Precursors - Lunar - Silicates - Gas
Water and their precursors were stored in lunar silicates and released into the gas phase by (micro)meteorite impact. Credit: Molecules and data courtesy of Cheng Zhu and Ralf I. Kaiser; background image courtesy of NASA/Goddard/Conceptual Image Lab.
Deuterium irradiated only "experiments did not reveal any trace of water formation,...
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