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New high-res maps suggest little water in moon

Lunar global topographic map obtained from Kaguya (SELENE) altimetry data shown in Hammer equal-area projection. Credit: Hiroshi Araki et al. 2009

Lunar global topographic map obtained from Kaguya (SELENE) altimetry data shown in Hammer equal-area projection. Credit: Hiroshi Araki et al. 2009

New maps of the moon from Japan’s Kaguya (SELENE) satellite suggest a lunar surface too rigid to allow for any liquid water, even deep below.

The new view is unveiled in one of three new papers in this week’s issue of the journal Science based on Kaguya (SELENE) data. In it, lead author Hiroshi Araki, from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, and international colleagues report that the Moon’s crust seems to be relatively rigid compared to Earth’s and may therefore lack water and other readily evaporating compounds. The new map is the most detailed ever created of the Moon, and reveals never-before-seen craters at the lunar poles.

“The surface can tell us a lot about what’s happening inside the Moon, but until now mapping has been very limited,” said C.K. Shum, professor of earth sciences at Ohio State University, and a study co-author. “For instance, with this new high-resolution map, we can confirm that there is very little water on the Moon today, even deep in the interior. And we can use that information to think about water on other planets, including Mars.”

Using the laser altimeter (LALT) instrument on board the Japanese Selenological and Engineering Explorer (SELENE) satellite, Araki and his colleagues mapped the Moon at an unprecedented 15-kilometer (9-mile) resolution. The map is the first to cover the Moon from pole to pole, with detailed measures of surface topography, on the dark side of the moon as well as the near side. The highest point — on the rim of the Dririchlet-Jackson basin near the equator — rises 11 kilometers (more than 6.5 miles) high, while the lowest point — the bottom of Antoniadi crater near the south pole — rests 9 kilometers (more than 5.5 miles) deep. In part, the new map will serve as a guide for future lunar rovers, which will scour the surface for geological resources.

But the team did something more with the map: they measured the roughness of the lunar surface, and used that information to calculate the stiffness of the crust. If water flowed beneath the lunar surface, the crust would be somewhat flexible, but it isn’t, the authors say. They add that the surface is too rigid to allow for any liquid water, even deep within the Moon. Earth’s surface is more flexible, by contrast, with the surface rising or falling as water flows above or below ground. Even Earth’s plate tectonics is due in part to water lubricating the crust.

Araki and his team say Mars, on a scale of surface roughness, falls somewhere between the Earth and the Moon — which suggests there may have once been liquid water, but that the surface is now very dry.

In the second Kaguya/SELENE study, lead author Takayuki Ono of Japan’s Tohoku University and colleagues describe debris layers between the near-side basalt flows, which suggest a possible period of reduced volcanism in the Moon’s early history. They propose that global cooling was probably a dominant driver of the shaping of lunar maria on the moon’s near side starting about 3 billion years ago. 

The third paper was authored by Noriyuki Namiki of Japan’s Kyushu University and his colleagues, who report gravity anomalies across the Moon’s far side indicating a rigid crust on the far side of the early Moon, and a more pliable one on the near side.

Source: Science

Polar topographic maps obtained from Kaguya (SELENE) altimetry data. Credit: Hiroshi Araki et al. 2009

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • robbi February 13, 2009, 3:58 PM

    GeoffofEssex- your equations are very clear to me,and as being roughly twice the cost
    more to send supplies to the Moon, makes my thinking of finding or processing H2O on the Moon something I really hope happens, otherwise, the Moon colony will be just a concept and a dream. The idea of getting
    resources from passing comets is centuries away -the concepts now available does not address the logistics required and is cost prohibited in any case and will remain centuries away.

  • Salacious B. Crumb February 13, 2009, 4:27 PM

    robbi said
    “…your indirect perceptions of deceptions is the name of your game.”

    Yet another good lawyer’s trick, declaring many falsehoods without mentioning the truth, eh? Be very very careful with having a such a dismissive approaches with obvious mistakes, because your arguments will simply falter. If there is a lie or error, say so, else
    see you later, indeed.

  • Salacious B. Crumb February 13, 2009, 4:31 PM

    I said earlier; “Of course the future route might be to instead grab heaps of material from passing comet and place it in lunar orbit. Difficult engineering feat even in the near future, but viable option for future colonists and explorers on the Moon.”

    robbi said; “The idea of getting resources from passing comets is centuries away – the concepts now available does not address the logistics required and is cost prohibited in any case and will remain centuries away.”

    Thanks for paraphrasing me. I’m glad you agree. Still it is a good idea, regardless.

  • Olaf February 13, 2009, 5:06 PM

    I am wondering, oxygene is in the soil, but you also have solar wind, and I also know that there is a lot of deuterium on the Moon.

    Oxygen + hydrogen = water, and in the beginning you do not need tons of water, just the minimal for the astronaut to love on.

    Maybe some solar wind trap that traps the hydrogene plasma could help?

  • robbi February 13, 2009, 5:12 PM

    Salacious B. Crumb- U have the lawyer trick of accusing and wanting nations who launched vehicles and want them to be accountable for such junk in space. I stated your forensic studies, which is a case to have lawyers involved, will hamper our ability to get rid of space junk. I don’t know anything about law, nor care about it, but I do all along, all you want to do is place blame on someone which is of legal concern, instead of getting to the heart of the problem of getting rid of junk. Stop trying to confuse the issue with your indirect BS of saying I’m using lawyer tricks while all along, all you do is place blame. The saying ‘ Speak for Yourself’ pertains to you Salacious B. Crumb.
    I am not a Scientist but had a Computer Science education and a Computer applications career and now happily retired, and have Sons who are now Engineers and have grandsons and I want my grandsons to be interested in Science and Math and have an open mind and ‘think outside the box’ . I realize I am not an expert on the incredible phenomena of our Universe, but I do certain know human nature, and you accuse me of intentional lies, falsehoods, mistakes shows me you are not knowledgeable enough know the quarks of human nature and yourself and you believe you are perfect-I told people who thought they are perfect such a person does not exist, if there was a perfect person, that person would be dead and buried but still not perfect because the body that is in the ground is causing problems for underground living lifeforms to move about.
    You can live in your narrow shell of thinking and fume why no-one very much agrees on your narrow hypothesis on many feeds-open up your mind and look around!!!

  • robbi February 13, 2009, 5:39 PM

    Salacious B. Crumb- I multi-task on my other 2 ‘puters concerning completely different subject matters and it is amazing to me when I get back to writing my opinion on some of these feeds,anyone can understand them as I am quite a ‘puter geek and like to keep my ‘puter riggs very much as advanced as possible and always doing other things,especially on the rainy days where I’m living in Sacramento,Ca- so when I get back to this feed,my mind is still on something else, however,I take offense,however slight, of your comments of intentional lies, falsehoods and mistake you accuse me of, -I’ve been on thousands of net site forums, and had quite some ‘internet bar room brawls’ of the likes you I will make sure you get buried and destroyed . I like to keep this site a G rated site., however, the choice is yours!!!

  • Damian February 13, 2009, 6:01 PM

    Does anyone have a link to the Hi-Res images?
    I looked on the Kaguya site but cant find this image.

  • Salacious B. Crumb February 13, 2009, 6:02 PM

    robbi
    You are starting to getting a just little confused here. The article blog here is about WATER ON THE MOON and not about “wanting nations who launched vehicles and want them to be accountable for such junk in space.” So your view is totally irrelevant to the story!
    Furthermore you said “…your indirect perceptions of deceptions is the name of your game.”
    Are they? I’ve deceived no one at all, here. I’ve just stated my opinions, and tried to make sense of what other write. No more no less. My comments in this article have been direct and to the point.

    Thank very much for you some what misinformed opinions.

    Note: As to you alleged role here; “I’m trying to have the general public read the posts and feeds to its’ full extent instead of becoming bored and look elsewhere.”
    I don’t recall reading anywhere someone giving you such authority at all? Isn’t this just a bit conceited. Perhaps “the saying ‘ Speak for Yourself’ applied equally to you?

  • AJames February 13, 2009, 6:11 PM

    Moderators.
    While Salacious might be fairly difficult in his responses, I do find it most offensive that DIRECT THREATS and personal attacks are made by Bloggers – especially when it is off topic.

    Direct threats like; “I’ve been on thousands of net site forums, and had quite some ‘internet bar room brawls’ of the likes you I will make sure you get buried and destroyed . I like to keep this site a G rated site., however, the choice is yours!!!”

    These are clearly improper uses of the Forum.

  • Salacious B. Crumb February 13, 2009, 6:15 PM

    Damian said: February 13th, 2009 at 6:01 pm
    Does anyone have a link to the Hi-Res images?
    I looked on the Kaguya site but cant find this image.

    I admittedly looked for some too, and couldn’t find anything either.

  • Vanamonde February 13, 2009, 9:16 PM

    Mmmm, has anyone serious excepted to find evidence of liquid water since Galileo? Ice is what we want, nice layers of ice, maybe just below the regolith or even if we must dig for it, dig it we shall! Ice and solar power = The Breath of Life and good rocket fuel if there is enough O2 left after we have enough to breathe.

  • RUF February 14, 2009, 3:38 PM

    Could it be that the hydrogen detected on the moon is H3+ from solar plasma? Must admit, don’t know why it would be so abundent on the poles of the moon….

  • Damian February 15, 2009, 5:33 AM

    Thats a pity about the lack of high res images, that has been a problem with the this mission, we get you tube videos of what were once HD movies or low res gifs of supposed Hi resolution maps.

    I suppose there is no real requirement that such be made available to the public, but its hard to be inspired.

    As for water on the moon, It is curious how dry it is, as frozen water seems to make up a lot of smaller and larger objects in our solar system.

    (or so I read)

    However, I would like to ask, (as I dont know) How hard is it to Pair an oxygen atom with hydrogen?
    Hydrogen seems to be in abundance in space.

    (or so I read)

    Can oxygen atoms be extracted from regolith?

    Just musing.

    Damian

  • Gaussling February 15, 2009, 1:57 PM

    Consider what cometary bodies do when near the sun (i.e., inside the orbit of Jupiter). They absorb radiant energy and off-gas volatiles. Sublimation of solid low molecular weight substances like H2O, CO2, NH3, CO, etc. It is what gives them the distinctive tail. Now imagine how long the moon has been exposing its surfaces to the sun, all the while in a hard vacuum. Is it any surprise that the moon is bone dry? I don’t think so. Perhaps the name of the moon should be changed from Luna to Siccus Silicis (dry rock).

  • Damian February 16, 2009, 2:11 AM

    This study shows a fairly Reasonable method of extracting hydrogen and oxygen (aka water) from lunar regolith.

    http://www.asi.org/adb/04/03/10/04/oxygen-extraction.html

    So I wonder if the the fact that there is no readily accessible water ice on the moon has that much bearing on our ability to live of the land up there.

    More a research curiosity.

    :) hmm, Roving Robot Regolith Factory Anyone? . (R.R.R.F.)

    Damian

  • robbi February 16, 2009, 5:51 PM

    Salacious B. Crumb- I am sorry for my blowup and my mistake and sorry to all –I think I suffered from middle-age PMS- lol- but sorry for my mistake and actiing foolish you are right Salacious
    I just got back from Reno with my relatives and was snowing and got the rains we need in California.

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