The report is based on NASA's LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) probe. From October 2013 to April 2014, this robotic researcher flew around the Moon and gathered detailed information about the structure and composition of the lunar atmosphere – the very smooth gaseous envelope of Earth's natural companion – and the appearance of dust on it.
Although there is evidence of the presence of water on the Moon, discussions continue about its origin and where it occurs and how much it can be.
It is a potentially important resource for the maintenance of long-term missions on the Moon and for human exploration of deep space.
Confirmation of model status
Scientific models previously predicted that the effects of meteoroids could release water from the moon as vapor, but scientists have not yet observed this phenomenon. By exploring what LADEE sent on Earth, they have now acquired dozens of phenomena.
|Meteors are bodies of the solar system from millimeters to several tens of meters that move between planets. Bodies greater than 100 meters are considered asteroids, although there is no exact interface between meteoroids and asteroids. Such a body is commonly considered a planet when it is possible to observe its path in the solar system.|
According to the scientists, the meteoroids had to penetrate at least eight centimeters below the surface to release the water. Beneath this parched top layer, there is a thin transition layer and then a hydrated layer where water molecules tend to stick to pieces of earth and rocks called regolith.
Part returns to surface
Because the material on the surface of the Moon is chubby, even a small half-inch meteorite can penetrate deep enough to release a cloud of steam. The shock wave, which dissipates on each impact, expels the water from the environment.
When the flow of meteors reaches the moon, water enters the atmosphere and dissipates. About two-thirds of that water vapor escapes into space, but about a third return to the surface of the moon, according to NASA.
These findings may help explain the presence of ice in the cold, dark corners of craters near both poles. Most of the known water on the Moon is located in such cold traps where temperatures are so low that the water vapor and other volatile substances that reach the surface will remain stable for a long time, perhaps several billion years.
Meteoroid attacks can draw water from these cold traps and into them.