New discovery suggests large quantities of water hidden inside the Moon

July 24, 2017 by  
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For years, scientists have assumed that the interior of the Moon is dry. However, a new study of satellite data has located numerous volcanic deposits around the moon – which could indicate large quantities of water trapped beneath its surface. The study, published in Nature Geoscience , explains that the ancient deposits are believed to be glass beads formed by the explosive eruption of magma from the deep lunar interior. As a result of this discovery, scientists are formulating a new opinion that the lunar mantle is actually water-rich. The study was led by Ralph Milliken, an associate professor in Brown University’s Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences . He said of the findings, “The key question is whether those Apollo samples represent the bulk conditions of the lunar interior or instead represent unusual or perhaps anomalous water-rich regions within an otherwise ‘dry’ mantle. By looking at the orbital data, we can examine the large pyroclastic deposits on the Moon that were never sampled by the Apollo or Luna missions. The fact that nearly all of them exhibit signatures of water suggests that the Apollo samples are not anomalous, so it may be that the bulk interior of the Moon is wet.” To detect the water content of the lunar volcanic deposits , scientists used orbital spectrometers to measure the light that bounces off a planetary surface. After collecting that data, they took into account the wavelengths of light which are absorbed or reflected by the surface to get an idea of which minerals and other compounds may be found in the rock’s interior. One challenge was taking into account the rising surface temperatures over the course of a day. Using the new thermal correction, the scientists were able to find evidence of water in almost all of the pyroclastic deposits that had been previously mapped across the Moon’s surface. Such deposits include the Apollo 15 and 17 landing sites. “The distribution of these water-rich deposits is the key thing,” said Milliken. “They’re spread across the surface, which tells us that the water found in the Apollo samples isn’t a one-off. Lunar pyroclastics seem to be universally water-rich, which suggests the same may be true of the mantle .” Now that evidence has been obtained suggesting that the interior of the Moon is water-rich, theories about its formation are evolving. Scientists presently believe the moon formed from debris left behind after an object about the size of Mars slammed into the Earth early in the solar system’s history. However, the original theory assumes that the Moon’s interior was dry. “The growing evidence for water inside the Moon suggest that water did somehow survive, or that it was brought in shortly after the impact by asteroids or comets before the Moon had completely solidified,” said co-author Shuai Li, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Hawaii and a recent Brown Ph.D. graduate. “The exact origin of water in the lunar interior is still a big question.” The finding has huge implications for future lunar exploration . The volcanic beads don’t contain a lot of water, but the deposits are large, meaning the H2O could be extracted. Said Li, “Anything that helps save future lunar explorers from having to bring lots of water from home is a big step forward, and our results suggest a new alternative.” + Nature Geoscience Via Phys Images via Depositphotos , Wikimedia , Pixabay

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New discovery suggests large quantities of water hidden inside the Moon

Lockheed to turn shuttle-era module into a space habitat for NASA

July 24, 2017 by  
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Deep space missions in the future will take humanity farther and farther away from Earth. Last year NASA chose six United States companies to develop deep space habitat prototypes as part of the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) study, demonstrating where astronauts might live and work. Aerospace company Lockheed Martin recently won a Phase II contract to develop a cislunar habitat, and they’re repurposing old materials to do so. They’ll be building a full-scale prototype at the Kennedy Space Center, utilizing what Lockheed Martin NextSTEP program manager Bill Pratt described as a historic piece of flight hardware. Lockheed Martin will be constructing the NextSTEP habitat by refurbishing the shuttle-era Donatello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module, which was once used to transfer cargo to the International Space Station . Pratt said in a statement, “We are excited to work with NASA to repurpose a historic piece of flight hardware, originally designed for low Earth orbit exploration, to play a role in humanity’s push into deep space. Making use of existing capabilities will be a guiding philosophy for Lockheed Martin to minimize development time and meet NASA ‘s affordability goals.” Related: NASA unveils 6 prototypical deep space human habitats for Mars and beyond Lockheed Martin will also draw on virtual and augmented reality to work on the prototype, giving them the ability to catch issues in the design phase. They’ll work on the project over 18 months, building on their work in Phase I. The NextSTEP habitat could be docked with NASA’s Orion spacecraft in cislunar orbit as part of the Deep Space Gateway. Orion will act as the command deck for the habitat, offering life support, communications, and navigation. But there will be long periods of time when no humans are present at the Deep Space Gateway, and Lockheed Martin had to take that into account in their work – they are also building a Deep Space Avionics Integration Laboratory near the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Pratt said, “Because the Deep Space Gateway would be uninhabited for several months at a time, it has to be rugged, reliable, and have the robotic capabilities to operate autonomously . Essentially it is a robotic spacecraft that is well-suited for humans when Orion is present.” Via Lockheed Martin Images via Lockheed Martin and NASA Orion Spacecraft on Flickr

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Lockheed to turn shuttle-era module into a space habitat for NASA

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