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Titanium deposits found on Moon

Washington, Oct 8 (): Scientists have revealed Nasa’s robotic spacecraft currently orbiting the moon has made a chart showing areas on the surface that are rich in valuable titanium ores. They have created a detailed map of the Moon combining observations in visible and ultraviolet wavelengths that shows a treasure trove of areas rich in titanium ores.

Mark Robinson and Brett Denevi(from Arizona State University and John Hopkins University, respectively) have found, by cleverly shading some pictures from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. They held a presentation at the joint meeting of the European Planetary Science Congress and the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences, revealing the presence of vast titanium deposits on the Moon.

The team created a complex mosaic image containing more than 4,000 LRO WAC photos, which the LRO collected over the course of a month. They used special research techniques to analyse the brightness of the surface, and then compared the data to info gathered by the Apollo and Luna missions.

The Orbiter’s camera images the surface at seven different wavelengths, and if you know what material absorbs what kind of light in what ways, you can get a pretty good idea of what kind of materials are on the lunar surface. It turns out there’s a lot more titanium than anyone previously thought.

It is believed the map could be the key to unlocking more of the moon’s secrets and working out what lies beneath its surface.

On Earth, titanium is usually one found in rocks with around one per cent or less of the precious element. But on the moon the new map shows titanium abundances range from around 1 per cent to more than 10 per cent.

“We still don’t really understand why we find much higher abundances of titanium on the Moon compared to similar types of rocks on Earth,” Robinson said at the meeting. “What the lunar titanium-richness does tell us is that the interior of the Moon had less oxygen when it was formed, knowledge that geochemists value for understanding the evolution of the Moon,” he said.

The find offers a double potential bounty, they said. “Lunar titanium is mostly found in the mineral ilmenite, a compound containing iron, titanium and oxygen,” they said.

“Future miners living and working on the Moon could break down ilmenite to liberate these elements. In addition, Apollo data shows that titanium-rich minerals are more efficient at retaining particles from the solar wind, such as helium and hydrogen. These gases would also provide a vital resource for future human inhabitants of lunar colonies.”

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