How does NASA differ from ISRO
Comets as water carriers of the moon
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January 16, 2011, 12:42 pm
Water that can be detected on the moon may have reached the earth's satellite when a comet struck.
Moon surface in the infrared - zones of strong infrared absorption in blue
(Image: ISRO / NASA / JPL Caltech / USGS / Brown Univ.)
For decades, many scientists assumed that the moon was extremely dry because there was no trace of life and no evidence of an atmosphere. Traces of water in lunar rocks examined on earth were attributed to contamination of the samples through leaks in the transport containers.
Apollo 14 astronauts Alan Shepard and Ed Mitchell with collection bag for moon rocks
Moonstone, brought to earth by Apollo 14
(Image: USRA / JPL)
The hydrogen traces found in the lunar apatite are very similar to those in the comets Hale-Bopp, Halley and Hyakutake. Comets orbit the sun as reservoirs of frozen water. After the moon formed, which could be the result of a collision of a large rocky celestial body the approximate size of Mars with Earth around 4.5 billion years ago, it was hit by a sufficiently large number of comets. Significant amounts of water got on him in this way.
The distribution of hydrogen isotopes in water on the moon differs from that in water on Earth. The ratio of deuterium (made up of a proton, an electron and a neutron) to hydrogen (made up of a proton and an electron) found in the apatite of the moon is different from that in terrestrial water. Therefore one excludes a contamination of the moon with water from the earth.
Hopes of being able to use the moon as a gas station for space missions at some point are strengthened by the new findings. Since spaceships have to use up to 85 percent of their fuel to leave the sphere of influence of Earth's gravity, the moon could represent a station on the way to other planets. Future planetary missions, for example on the way to Mars, may be supplied with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen on the moon, obtained from the water on the moon.
Author: Thomas Weyrauch
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