Large amounts of water found deposited on Moon

Large amounts of water have been found trapped in volcanic deposits across the surface of the moon, which means the lunar mantle is probably a far wetter place than anyone ever thought possible. The finding could call into question our theories about the moon’s formation, but it could also make future moon colonies more feasible, reports

The leading theory for how the moon formed is that it represents debris left behind after a catastrophic collusion between the young Earth and a Mars-sized planet very early in the solar system history. A collision like this should have burned off most of the moon’s hydrogen, an essential ingredient for making water, so scientists have long assumed that the moon was a dry place.

Clues to the moon’s hidden water were first revealed back in 2008, when a research team detected trace amounts of water in some of the volcanic glass beads brought back to Earth from the Apollo 15 and 17 missions. Then, in 2011, the water in those glass beads was further analyzed, revealing that the samples contain similar amounts of water as some basalts on Earth.

Could the moon’s interior therefore contain similar amounts of water as found on Earth’s?

What we know from Apollo

“The key question is whether those Apollo samples represent the bulk conditions of the lunar interior or instead represent unusual or perhaps anomalous water-rich regions within an otherwise ‘dry’ mantle,” explained Ralph Milliken, lead author of the new research. “By looking at the orbital data, we can examine the large pyroclastic deposits on the moon that were never sampled by the Apollo or Luna missions. The fact that nearly all of them exhibit signatures of water suggests that the Apollo samples are not anomalous, so it may be that the bulk interior of the moon is wet.”

To reach their conclusions, Milliken and co-author Shuai Li used a new thermal correction method to analyze the temperature profile of the areas of interest on the moon’s surface. The source data came from the moon Mineralogy Mapper, an imaging spectrometer that flew aboard India’s Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter. Temperature profiles can reveal which minerals and other compounds are present on the surface of the moon because wavelengths of light are absorbed or reflected by the surface differently depending on what it’s made up of.

Water was found in nearly all of the large pyroclastic deposits that were mapped. Because these regions were distributed across the lunar surface, it means the detection of water in the Apollo samples was no anomaly. It also indicates the high likelihood that a similar distribution can be found in the moon’s mantle.

If there is (or was) more water, how did it get there?

“The growing evidence for water inside the moon suggest that water did somehow survive, or that it was brought in shortly after the impact by asteroids or comets before the moon had completely solidified,” said Li. “The exact origin of water in the lunar interior is still a big question.”

It might mean that we need to re-formulate our theories about how the moon formed, or at least re-consider how hydrogen might survive under such extreme conditions. There’s also potentially more than enough water to make mining operations on the moon worthwhile. Future moon inhabitants might get enough water from the moon to survive on their own without supplies from Earth.

“Anything that helps save future lunar explorers from having to bring lots of water from home is a big step forward, and our results suggest a new alternative,” said Li.

credit: Bryan Nelson

The importance of how much water you should drink a day

Everyone’s heard the old refrain — drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Turns out that’s not entirely accurate. The Mayo Clinic recommends about 13 cups a day for an average male and about nine cups a day for the average female. But the actual amount of water a person should drink in a day can vary based on where you live, how much you weigh, and what kind of lifestyle you lead.
Water makes up 60 percent of our body’s weight and is absolutely imperative for our organs to function. Since we are constantly losing water through sweat, urine and even our breath, drinking enough water is crucial. If you become dehydrated, you will lose energy and become nauseated, headache-y, and tired. Severe dehydration can even send you to the hospital so drinking an adequate amount of water is crucial to maintaining your health on a daily basis.

If you exercise, you are losing more water than the average person. Therefore, it’s important to drink water before, during and after your workout — an extra 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups should be sufficient for a short workout. If you’re doing prolonged exercise, like running in a marathon, you have to drink much more than that.

In the summertime or if you live in a warm climate, you’ll also need to drink more water than the recommended amount. That’s because heat can make you sweat more and lose fluids faster.

You’ll also need to drink more water than is usually recommended if you’re sick with a fever, vomiting or diarrhea. If all you’ve got is a pesky cold, drinking water can also help keep your nasal passages hydrated and prevent you from getting sicker.

Another instance where you need to drink more water? If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. The Mayo Clinc recommended that a pregnant woman drink at least 10 cups of water a day and a nursing woman to drink 13 cups of water a day. That’s because nursing drains your body and can leave you dehydrated if you’re not drinking enough. Not to mention that adequate hydration while breastfeeding can ensure an ample milk supply. When I had my last child, the hospital lactation specialist told me to drink one cup of water each hour of the day from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. — that’s a lot of water!

How do you know if you’re drinking enough? You can count the cups you drink or you can just peek in the toilet after you pee — you should be peeing a clear or light yellow liquid. If your urine is dark yellow or cloudy, you definitely are not drinking enough.

This is a lot of water to drink for physical health, but drinking water can have an influence on your emotional health as well. A 2014 study published in PLOS ONE found that, if you’re not drinking enough water, drinking more water will better your mood and increase general positive emotions. If you’re already drinking a good bit of water during the way, keep it up! The same study found that folks who drank a high amount of water over the course of the day experienced a decrease in their happiness levels if they decreased their water intake.

If water isn’t your thing, you can also safely substitute juice, milk or coffee for a cup or two a day. Since I was never a major water drinker, I like to combine 1/3 cup juice with 2/3 cup water. My husband says I like to drink juice that way because I grew up on watered-down juice from a can. Maybe. But at least it helps me meet my daily water intake goal!

credit: Chanie Kirschner