Friday, July 11, 2008

Moon Water Found in Moon Rocks

Itsy bitsy beads of moon dew were found by space water hunters in crevices and cracks of moon rocks collected almost forty years ago during Apollo missions. Those rocks reside in museums, like the National Museum of Natural History right smack dab in middle of the DC mall with nobody knowing they still held microscopic droplets of a secret. Lunar legend had the waxing and waning moon made of curdled milk, otherwise known as cheese as cows jumped over a barren landscape. Now the rock race is on to find and secure the wellspring or origin of moon water that makes the Moon Eden more possible than the previously believed desolate lunar desert plains. The moon's gravity pulls and pushes the tides, with a small assist from the sun, while Earthlings seek water to remake Man on the Moon as an inhabitant rather than a mere space tourist. Water makes living on the moon more possible for researchers and scientists.

In a study published today in Nature, researchers led by Brown University geologist Alberto Saal found evidence of water molecules in pebbles retrieved by NASA's Apollo missions.

But a high-powered imaging technique known as secondary ion mass spectrometry revealed a wealth of so-called volatile compounds, among them fluorine, chlorine, sulfur, carbon dioxide -- and water.

Critically, telltale hydrogen molecules were concentrated at the center of samples rather than their surfaces, assuring Saal's team that water was present in an infant moon rather than added by recent bombardment.

The Outer Space Treaty treats the moon like international waters on Earth and expressly forbids nuclear weapons being deposited on the Moon or any other nefarious weapons of mass destruction. The Moon Treaty goes as wallpaper as no nation with the power to get to the moon will affix their signatures let alone ratify a document stating no single nation shall be the proprietor, crusading capitalist or exploiting developer of the Moon's meager resources, such as the misty droplets or any other celestial heavenly body. The international stakes just went up tremendously for China, Nigeria, Russia, America the confederation of the European Space Agency and don't forget Poland plus others, developing space programmes.

Finding the presence of water in rocks brought back to earth throws open the door to moon possibilities even wider. Outpost on the moon anyone?

The Apollo mission in 1969 kicked it all off. The way those missions happened and the meticulous planning is captured in a book every space enthusiast should own, How Apollo Flew to the Moon from W. David Woods, a truly spectacular space nerd author with serious creds.

1 comment:

David Woods said...

Thanks for the kind words on my book. Much appreciated. My wife had all her impressions of me reinforced by the phrase "truly spectacular space nerd"! :-)

David Woods