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Moon may have large sub-surface water reserves

Then, in 2011, the water in those glass beads was further analyzed, revealing that the samples contain similar amounts of water as some basalts on Earth.Imagine a service station on the Moon, where local “Lunar” brand water is available for your journey to Mars. Previous studies have shown that there are some traces of ice in shadowed regions at the moon’s poles, which may have been the result of hydrogen that comes from solar wind. “They’re spread across the surface, which tells us that the water found in the Apollo samples isn’t a one-off”. Depending on which wavelengths of light are absorbed or reflected, scientists can get a handle on what minerals are present.Li noted scientists had believed the Moon to be “bone dry” until about a decade ago, when scientists found evidence of water – an essential ingredient for life – in pebble-like beads brought back by Apollo missions. Turning Moon water into rocket fuel could become an extremely lucrative industry-if there’s water to extract, of course.”The key question is whether those Apollo samples represent the bulk conditions of the lunar interior or instead represent unusual or perhaps anomalous water-rich regions within an otherwise “dry” mantle”, said Ralph Milliken, lead author of the new research, published in the Nature Geoscience journal on Monday.The notion that our most famous natural satellite is a dry, dead rock started to change almost a decade ago when tiny amounts of water were detected in volcanic glass beads brought back from the surface of the moon by Apollo 15 and 17.But because we have such limited samples of lunar rock from only a few landing sites, it was unknown whether the Apollo mission samples were unique. The source data came from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper, an imaging spectrometer that flew aboard India’s Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter.The new research involved analysis of light reflected from deposits left on the moon’s surface by volcanic eruptions.”The amount of water in a given glass bead is not very much, but the size of some of the pyroclastic deposits is huge, so you have a lot of material to work with and process”, Milliken said.The last time we had boots on the moon’s surface was nearly 45 years ago with Apollo 17.Going forward, the scientists would like to map the pyroclastic deposits in greater detail so that they can better understand how water concentrations vary among different deposits on the lunar surface. The volcanic beads only have about 0.05% water by weight. “Lunar pyroclastics seem to be universally water-rich, which suggests the same may be true of the mantle”, says Milliken. The very youngest sign of volcanic activity scientists have found on the moon’s surface is 18 million years old. “Water – and it either be as H2O, or we often use water to refer to hydroxyl (OH), either of which could be extracted to produce water to drink in theory – has characteristic absorptions”. But in this scenario, any water would have likely been vaporized by the high temperatures generated by the impact and cataclysm that followed, and vapor would have escaped into space.Li also said in an email that he thinks the surface water could be an important resource for future explorers.Dr Shuai Li, of Hawaii University, suggested that the water might have survived the astonishing collision or could have been delivered to the Moon by asteroid and comet strikes.