Understanding the origin and evolution of water in the Moon through lunar sample studies

Anand, Mahesh; Tartèse, Romain and Barnes, Jessica (2014). Understanding the origin and evolution of water in the Moon through lunar sample studies. Philosophical Transactions A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 372(2024)

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2013.0254

URL: http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/372...

Abstract

A paradigm shift has recently occurred in our knowledge and understanding of water in the lunar interior. This has transpired principally through continued analysis of returned lunar samples using modern analytical instrumentation. While these recent studies have undoubtedly measured indigenous water in lunar samples they have also highlighted our current limitations and some future challenges that need to be overcome in order to fully understand the origin, distribution and evolution of water in the lunar interior. Another exciting recent development in the field of lunar science has been the unambiguous detection of water or water ice on the surface of the Moon through instruments flown on a number of orbiting spacecraft missions. Considered together, sample-based studies and those from orbit strongly suggest that the Moon is not an anhydrous planetary body, as previously believed. New observations and measurements support the possibility of a wet lunar interior and the presence of distinct reservoirs of water on the lunar surface. Furthermore, an approach combining measurements of water abundance in lunar samples and its hydrogen isotopic composition has proved to be of vital importance to fingerprint and elucidate processes and source(s) involved in giving rise to the lunar water inventory. A number of sources are likely to have contributed to the water inventory of the Moon ranging from primordial water to meteorite-derived water ice through to the water formed during the reaction of solar wind hydrogen with the lunar soil. Perhaps two of the most striking findings from these recent studies are the revelation that at least some portions of the lunar interior are as water-rich as some Mid-Ocean Ridge Basalt source regions on Earth and that the water in the Earth and the Moon probably share a common origin.

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