The first ever map of the Moon’s high concentration areas of water has now been put together. It was compiled by using data from the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, more exactly, from one of its onboard mapping instrument.
The Moon’s water areas are not the conventional lakes and streams we see on Earth. On the Earth’s natural satellite, water is trapped within the soil, rocks, and volcanic glass (this latter being a result of the Moon’s volatile magma interior). These fragments of glass are capable of retaining water in higher concentration than the surrounding lunar terrain.
First Ever Map of the Moon’s Water Regions and its Accuracy
The Chandrayaan-1 is an Indian spacecraft equipped with a precision near-infrared instrument, one that allows scientists to observe which sections of the Moon contain what extensive water areas. This tool, NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper, can determine the amount of water, in parts per million, that are present in any given region. On the Moon, water is both in the form of H2O, the most common form on Earth, as well as OH, also known as Hydroxyl.
The system is not perfect, however. For NASA’s machine to obtain an accurate reading, it must scan areas which are exposed to at least some sun light. This is due to the method in which the instrument collects data from reflected rays. It is estimated that there is much more water in the form of ice in the lower regions of the satellite. The issue lies in measuring the amount of frozen water that can’t even be seen.
Despite some setbacks, the Mapper is a considered to be a very accurate tool. It was able to observe and organize the first ever map showing, globally, where these Hydroxyl and Water deposits are. These, as small as they are compared to Earth, are not insignificant. They may not be ponds or rivers, but the deposits hold valuable information, including clues to the original source of this lunar water.
Image Source: Wikimedia