In this blog we talk a lot about current issues in the water industry. Whether it’s new technology in the industrial sector, drinking water cleanliness or creative ways to recycle and reuse our most precious resource, we cast a wide net (no pun intended) when it comes the stories we comment on. Our topics have always had one thing in common, though – they take place on planet Earth.
Until now, that is. Today we head to space to discuss a recently published paper from Nature Geoscience that theorizes that the Moon contains much larger amounts of water than previously thought.
Until recently, the sum total of the moon’s water was thought to exist as surface ice at the bottom of deep craters. However, around 2008 researchers found that the Moon’s volcanic material contains trace amounts of water. In this most recent research, Ralph Milliken of Brown University and Shuai Li at the University of Hawaii looked at volcanic rock samples collected during the Apollo missions in the late 1960s and early 1970s. By building on previous work and studying recent NASA satellite images, the scientists theorize that, because this volcanic matter is so widespread across the surface of the moon, the interior holds large reserves of water. These water deposits may dwarf the relatively small amount known to exist on the surface. Perhaps in the future researchers will be able to actually quantify how much water is locked away under the Moon’s barren exterior.
In recent years, organizations like NASA and the European Space Agency have also been studying the water holding potential of other moons and planets in our solar system. Mars, Europa (Jupiter’s second largest moon) and Enceladus (Saturn’s sixth largest moon) have all been studied with probes like the Mars Rover or more remotely with the Hubble Space Telescope. In the distant past, Mars may have actually held large amounts of surface water while Europa and Enceladus potentially have more water than Earth deep below their frozen surfaces.
Researchers are also using the Hubble Space Telescope to look for water in distant parts of the galaxy. In an ongoing study, scientists are observing how water behaves in the atmosphere of the exoplanet WASP-121b to learn more about the planet itself. WASP-121b orbits a star about 880 light-years from Earth by the way.
Just like water is at core of the work we do at LuminUltra, it is also central to fascinating discoveries like these that are driving our understanding of the universe forward.