Scientists already knew that water is on the moon. For example, the NASA Lunar Crater Observation and Observation satellite discovered the stuff in a shadowy crater near the south pole of the moon. And the Indian probe Chandrayaan-1 recorded water in the thin atmosphere above the lunar surface.
According to Kayama, however, there was no evidence for the presence of underground water in middle and lower latitudes.
"Many people think that remote sensing spacecraft only found evidence of water around the poles just because we can not see below the surface below a few millimeters," Kayama said. "This is the first glimpse of water in the underground zone."
The researchers estimate that the water content in the lunar soil below the surface could be up to 0.6 percent. If true, future moon pioneers could theoretically extract about 1
"This value means that water is very abundant," he said. "It would be enough for future astronauts and people who might be able to live on the moon in the future to get enough water to meet their needs."
Kayama said that the widespread presence of water ice below the surface of the Moon in areas other than poles would mean that future explorers would have easier access to the resource, which could also be used for missile missions on asteroid missions and other planets ,
"We would not have to bring all the water to drink and fuel to return to Earth, or travel with us from Earth to Mars, for example," Kayama said. "If water is abundant in the moon base, we can use it easily."
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Kayama and his colleagues analyzed 14 lunar meteorites using sophisticated methods, including micro-Raman spectroscopy and electron microscopy. They only found moganite in one of these samples.
However, they said that concentrations of the mineral indicate that it was unlikely to form when the meteorite was already in the African desert and exposed to terrestrial weather.
"Moganite formation as a result of terrestrial weathering can be ruled out, as this scenario would mean widespread use of moganite in the sand of the hot desert in which the meteorites were found," the researchers wrote in the new study that was published online May 2 in the journal Science Advances . "This case has not been reported, moganite is easily and completely lost to water aging at ambient pressure."
Kayama hopes that Japan's JAXA space agency will in the future release plans to launch a lunar return mission that would allow researchers to discover moganite in other lunar rocks.
Originally published on Space.com.
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