Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. Moon News .




MOON DAILY
Misleading mineral may have resulted in overestimate of water in moon
by Staff Writers
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Apr 02, 2014


The image is a map of calcium within a polished thin slice of a lunar rock. The high calcium content in apatite is indicated by the bright pinks and reds, while surrounding minerals with lower calcium content are shown in blues and black. Core to rim zoning of water in crystals such as this one demonstrates the presence of the apatite fractionation, an effect responsible for the high water content of lunar apatites on an otherwise dry moon.

The amount of water present in the moon may have been overestimated by scientists studying the mineral apatite, says a team of researchers led by Jeremy Boyce of the UCLA Department of Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences.

Boyce and his colleagues created a computer model to accurately predict how apatite would have crystallized from cooling bodies of lunar magma early in the moon's history. Their simulations revealed that the unusually hydrogen-rich apatite crystals observed in many lunar rock samples may not have formed within a water-rich environment, as was originally expected.

This discovery has overturned the long-held assumption that the hydrogen in apatite is a good indicator of overall lunar water content.

"The mineral apatite is the most widely used method for estimating the amount of water in lunar rocks, but it cannot be trusted," said Boyce, who is an adjunct assistant professor in the UCLA College of Letters and Science. "Our new results show that there is not as much water in lunar magma as apatite would have us believe."

The research was published online March 20 in the journal Science on and will be published in a future print edition.

For decades, scientists believed the moon was almost entirely devoid of water. However, the discovery of hydrogen-rich apatite within lunar rocks in 2010 seemed to hint at a more watery past. Scientists originally assumed that information obtained from a small sample of apatite could predict the original water content of a large body of magma, or even the entire moon, but Boyce's study indicates that apatite may, in fact, be deceptive.

Boyce believes the high water content within lunar apatite results from a quirk in the crystallization process rather than a water-rich lunar environment. When water is present as molten rock cools, apatite can form by incorporating hydrogen atoms into its crystal structure. However, hydrogen will be included in the newly crystallizing mineral only if apatite's preferred building blocks, fluorine and chlorine, have been mostly exhausted.

"Early-forming apatite is so fluorine-rich that it vacuums all the fluorine out of the magma, followed by chlorine," Boyce said. "Apatite that forms later doesn't see any fluorine or chlorine and becomes hydrogen-rich because it has no choice."

Therefore, when fluorine and chlorine become depleted, a cooling body of magma will shift from forming hydrogen-poor apatite to forming hydrogen-rich apatite, with the latter not accurately reflecting the original water content in the magma.

Understanding the story of lunar apatite has implications beyond determining how much water is locked inside lunar rocks and soil. According to the predominant theory of how the moon originally formed, hydrogen and other volatile elements should not be present at all in lunar rocks.

Many scientists theorize that the moon formed when a giant impact tore free a large chunk of Earth more than 4 billion years ago. If this "giant impact" model is correct, the moon would have been completely molten, and lighter elements such as hydrogen should have bubbled to the surface and escaped into space. Since hydrogen is a key component of water, a moon formed by a giant impact should be dry.

The majority of lunar samples are in fact very dry and missing lighter elements. Yet hydrogen-rich apatite crystals are found in a whole host of lunar samples and have presented a paradox for scientists. Somehow, despite the moon's fiery beginning, some water and other volatiles may have remained, though perhaps not as much as apatite initially implied.

"We had 40 years of believing in a dry moon, and now we have some evidence that the old dry model of the moon wasn't perfect," Boyce said. "However, we need to be cautious and look carefully at each piece of evidence before we decide that rocks on the moon are as wet as those on Earth."

This study shows that scientists still have much to learn about the composition and environment of the early moon.

"We're knocking out one of the most important pillars of evidence regarding the conditions of the formation and evolution of the moon," Boyce said. "Next, we plan to determine how badly apatite has distorted our view of the moon and how we can best see past it to get at the moon's origin."

The research was supported by a NASA Cosmochemistry grant and a NASA Lunar Advanced Science for Exploration Research grant. Co-authors of the study include undergraduate Steven Tomlinson from UCLA, assistant research professor Francis McCubbin from the University of New Mexico, professor James Greenwood from Wesleyan University and staff scientist Allan Treiman from the NASA-funded Lunar and Planetary Institute.

.


Related Links
University of California - Los Angeles
Mars News and Information at MarsDaily.com
Lunar Dreams and more






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





MOON DAILY
ASU camera creates stunning mosaic of moon's polar region
Tempe AZ (SPX) Mar 25, 2014
the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), run by the Arizona State University-based team under professor Mark Robinson, released what very well may be the largest image mosaic available on the web. This map offers a complete picture of the moon's northern polar region in stunning detail. On December 11, 2011, after two and a half years in a near-circular polar orbit, NASA's Lunar Rec ... read more


MOON DAILY
Mars yard ready for Red Planet rover

Mars One building simulated colony to vet potential colonists

The Opposition of Mars

Cleaner NASA Rover Sees Its Shadow in Martian Spring

MOON DAILY
Four Moons About Saturn's Rings

Surface of Titan Sea is mirror smooth, Stanford scientists find

Your 15 Minutes of 'Frame' - from NASA's Cassini

Cassini Nears 100th Titan Flyby with a Look Back

MOON DAILY
Dwarf planet 'Biden' identified in an unlikely region of our solar system

Planet X myth debunked

WISE Finds Thousands Of New Stars But No Planet X

New Horizons Reaches the Final 4 AU

MOON DAILY
Unique camera from NASA's moon missions sold at auction

Expeditions to the Moon: beware of meteorites

A Wet Moon

ASU camera creates stunning mosaic of moon's polar region

MOON DAILY
Scientists watch nanoparticles grow

Nanotube coating helps shrink mass spectrometers

Researchers Grow Carbon Nanofibers Using Ambient Air, Without Toxic Ammonia

A new concept for manufacturing wrinkling patterns on hard-nano-film/soft-matter-substrate

MOON DAILY
Advancing the Technology Readiness Of SLS Adaptive Controls

Airbus Defence and Space to cooperate with Snecma on electric propulsion

Boeing on Schedule to Deliver World's First All-Electric Satellites

Europe's IXV atmospheric reentry demonstrator ready for final tests

MOON DAILY
China launches experimental satellite

Tiangong's New Mission

"Space Odyssey": China's aspiration in future space exploration

China to launch first "space shuttle bus" this year

MOON DAILY
Russian spacecraft brings three-man crew to ISS after two-day delay

Soyuz Docking Delayed Till Thursday as Station Crew Adjusts Schedule

US, Russian astronauts take new trajectory to dock the ISS

Software glitch most probable cause of Soyuz TMA-12 taking two day approach




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.