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Water on the Moon!

The Moon Mineralogy Mapper, a reflectance spectrometer, was flown on the Indian’s first lunar  mission, Chandrayaan-1.  Larry Taylor of our PGI was a member of the M3 team, headed by  Carle Pieters, of Brown University.  Most of the members of this team are remote sensing specialists,  with strong physics backgrounds.  However, Larry was chosen for his knowledge of the actual lunar  rocks and soils, sort of the “ground truth” for the observations.  After months of heated discussion  about interpretations and rendering of the spectral data, we all agreed on this great new finding of “Water on the Moon.”  And after we discovered this evidence, two members of our team, who just happened to be on other mission teams, looked at their data and viola, it was there as well – great confirmation of this unequivocal evidence for water on our Moon.

This water is only a trace, being about 1000 ppm – squeeze a cubic yard of lunar soil, and you get  about one liter of water.  But, at ~$50,000/kg to take anything from Earth to the Moon’s surface,  this is GREAT!!   And this finding has nothing to do with the potential for water-ice in the permanently shadowed craters (~40 K) at the lunar poles.

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