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Study: The Moon’s poles might not be the only places to find lunar water

Global map of hydrogen abundances on Moon
Click for full image.

According to a new study published in June in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, while the lunar poles might contain water ice in permanently shadowed craters — based on detected hydrogen abundances — there is an even higher concentration of hydrogen found in the Aristarchus Plateau region in the lower mid-latitudes.

The map to the right is figure 9 from the paper, annotated to post here, showing the Moon’s hydrogen abundances globally, with lighter areas having higher concentrations. The boxes indicate five lunar regions that appear to hold higher levels of hydrogen and thus might contain higher amounts of water. From the paper’s conclusions:

The bulk hydrogen map also led to the first identification of bulk hydrogen enhancements within a pyroclastic deposit (Aristarchus Plateau), an identification that corroborates previous suggestions that hydrogen was among the volatiles involved in the eruption and emplacement of pyroclastic deposits. Further, with the understanding that there are enhanced bulk hydrogen abundances within at least one pyroclastic deposit and not just a surface enhancement, this leads to the implication that the hydrogen contained within just the Aristarchus Plateau may represent a significant fraction of the hydrogen that exists in the Moon’s near-subsurface, including that at both lunar poles. [emphasis mine]

It is important to note that finding high hydrogen abundances does not automatically mean you have found water. For hydrogen to exist on the Moon the atom must be bound in a molecule, and usually water is chosen as the most likely candidate. In the case of Aristarchus, however, the paper instead suggests that hydrogen was placed there as pyroclastic deposits, when active volcanism was occurring a long time ago. While water ice might not be present now in these regions, the data also suggests that water played a major role in its formation.

These hydrogen abundances however also signal the faint possibility of that water ice might be buried here, below the surface, left over from those early volcanic processes. The data also suggests even if the hydrogen is bound in other materials, mining and processing might be able to extract water from it.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

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