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NASA detects water on moon surface from Chandrayaan data

Washington, Aug 30 (): Using data from India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, scientists have found indication of magmatic water locked on the surface of the moon.

‘Magmatic water’ – liquid that originates from within the interior of the moon was detected by Nasa’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) instrument aboard the Indian Space Research Organization’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft.

The discovery of the magmatic water is the first discovery of its kind from lunar orbit. However, earlier studies have pointed about the presence of magmatic water in lunar rock samples brought to Earth by Apollo astronauts four decades ago, researchers said.

The water is locked in mineral grains and is thought to have originated from an unknown source deep below the surface of the moon. M3 imaged the lunar crater Bullialdus, which lies near the lunar equator. Its central peak is made up of a type of rock that forms deep within the lunar crust and mantle when magma is trapped underground.

In 2009, M3 provided the first mineralogical map of the lunar surface and discovered water molecules in the polar regions of the moon. This water is thought to be a thin layer formed from solar wind striking the surface of the moon. Bullialdus crater is in a region with an adverse environment for solar wind to produce considerable amounts of water on the surface.

For many years, researchers thought that the rocks from the moon were bone-dry and any water detected in the Apollo samples had to be contamination from Earth.

Scientists hope the discovery could help them understand how the moon was formed. They could also compare this water with other characteristics of the lunar surface.

Rachel Klima, a planetary geologist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel said this internal magmatic water also offers clues about the volcanic processes and internal composition of the moon, which helps us address questions about how the moon formed, and how magmatic processes changed as it cooled.