Lunar Water: A Brief Review
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- Anand, M. Earth Moon Planets (2010) 107: 65. doi:10.1007/s11038-010-9377-9
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One of the most exciting recent developments in the field of lunar science has been the unambiguous detection of water (either as OH or H2O) or water ice on the Moon through instruments flown on a number of orbiting spacecraft missions. At the same time, continued laboratory-based investigations of returned lunar samples by Apollo missions using high-precision, low-detection, analytical instruments have for the first time, provided the absolute abundance of water (present mostly as structurally bound OH− in mineral phases) in lunar samples. These new results suggest that the Moon is not an anhydrous body, questioning conventional wisdom, and indicating the possibility of a wet lunar interior and the presence of distinct reservoirs of water on the lunar surface. However, not all recent results point to a wet Moon and it appears that the distribution of water on the Moon may be highly heterogeneous. Additionally, a number of sources are likely to have contributed to the water inventory of the Moon ranging from primordial water to meteorite-derived water ice through to the water formed during the reaction of solar-wind hydrogen with the lunar soil. Water on the Moon has implications for future astrobiological investigations as well as for generating resources in situ during future exploration of the Moon and other airless bodies in the Solar System.