Spacecraft reveal higher than expected abundances of the liquid on the lunar surface and in volcanic rocks
By Ron Cowen
October 24th, 2009; Vol.176 #9 (p. 10)
Scientists’ understanding of the moon could be all wet. Its surface is surprisingly dewy and its interior contains more water than previous analyses of moon rocks have indicated, according to new studies.
Observations from three spacecraft suggest that water is widely distributed over a thin layer of the lunar surface rather than locked up in icy enclaves predicted to lie at the moon’s poles. The results, detailed in a trio of papers to be posted online September 24 in Science, suggest that liquid water may be more available to future moon explorers than had been thought. Concentrations in sunlit soil might average about 1,000 parts per million, the equivalent of roughly a quart of water per ton of material. That water doesn’t remain on the moon, but comes and goes each lunar day.