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Scientists Create Global Map of Hydrogen Abundances across Moon

The date of: 2022-07-25
viewed: 1

To build the global map of hydrogen abundances on the Moon, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory researcher David Lawrence and his colleagues used data from the Neutron Spectrometer, one of five instruments mounted on NASA’s Lunar Prospector spacecraft.
Lunar Prospector, which was deployed by NASA in 1998, orbited the Moon for 1.5 years and sent back the first direct evidence of enhanced hydrogen at the lunar poles, before impacting the lunar surface.
The researchers calibrated the data to quantify the amount of hydrogen by the corresponding decrease of neutrons measured by the Neutron Spectrometer.
“We were able to combine data from lunar soil samples from the Apollo missions with what we’ve measured from space and finally put together a full picture of lunar hydrogen for the first time,” said Dr. Lawrence, who was part of the original team that studied the initial Lunar Prospector data in 1998.
The team’s map confirms enhanced hydrogen in two types of lunar materials.
The first, at the Aristarchus Plateau, is home to the Moon’s largest pyroclastic deposits. These deposits are fragments of rock erupted from volcanoes, corroborating prior observations that hydrogen and/or water played a role in lunar magmatic events.
The second is KREEP-type rocks. KREEP is an acronym for lunar lava rock that stands for potassium (K), rare earth elements (REE) and phosphorus (P).
“When the Moon originally formed, it’s largely accepted that it was molten debris from a huge impact with Earth,” Dr. Lawrence said.
“As it cooled, minerals formed out of the melt, and KREEP is thought to be the last type of material to crystallize and harden.”
The new map not only completes the inventory of hydrogen on the Moon but could also lead to quantification of how much hydrogen and water was present in the Moon when it was born.
“In 2013, researchers also confirmed the presence of water ice at the poles on Mercury using data from the neutron spectrometer on NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft,” the scientists said.
“These discoveries are important not only for understanding the Solar System but also in planning future human exploration of the Solar System.”
The team’s findings were published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.

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