Water on the Moon and Mars

It has long been known that water exists in comets, asteroids, on Mars and on the Moon, but the key question has always been, “how much is there?” Shadows in craters at the Moon’s poles have been suspected to hold some ice, but there was little hope of finding enough moisture across the rest of the landscape to be of much use. Data from several recent Moon probes may change that. A second discovery shows that there is also more water on Mars than previously known.

A damp moon: Water found inside and out – [sciencenews.org]

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.

Water galore on Moon and Mars – [scientificamerican.com]

Two major discoveries revealed today may have made it a lot easier for humans to leave Earth and establish new colonies on the Moon and Mars. In a sensational announcement, NASA announced that there are vast quantities of water on the Moon, which has always been considered an arid world. A second discovery revealed that water ice exists at mid-latitudes on Mars. This is much further from the poles and closer to the equator than water was previously thought to lie and means there should be supplies for human explorers to drink.

Water On Moon & Mars Is A Game-Changer – [scientificblogging.com]

If we’re going to get anywhere in this solar system, we need to go where there is water. Everything else can be dehydrated, miniaturized, made more portable. You can even make oxygen from water, just by adding some electricity (such as from solar power). But water– which also makes up most of our body– is the one item we so desperately need, but can’t mimic.

Water on the Moon: What Does it Mean? – [universetoday.com]

There appears to be a cycle of water being created and lost during a lunar day. Without an atmosphere, the moon is exposed to solar wind, which includes hydrogen ions. The hydrogen is able to interact with oxygen in lunar soil to create water molecules. The water appears to be created at night on the Moon, lost during the “hottest” parts of the two-week lunar day; then as it cools near evening, the cycle repeats itself. So, regardless of the type of terrain on the Moon, the entire surface of the moon will be hydrated at least for part of the day. The scientists said similar hydration effects may be present on any body in our solar system that doesn’t have an atmosphere, including asteroids and Mercury.

Those implications are huge for our explorations of other moons and worlds.

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