Research ArticleSPACE SCIENCES

Water on the surface of the Moon as seen by the Moon Mineralogy Mapper: Distribution, abundance, and origins

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Science Advances  13 Sep 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 9, e1701471
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1701471


A new thermal correction model and experimentally validated relationships between absorption strength and water content have been used to construct the first global quantitative maps of lunar surface water derived from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper near-infrared reflectance data. We find that OH abundance increases as a function of latitude, approaching values of ~500 to 750 parts per million (ppm). Water content also increases with the degree of space weathering, consistent with the preferential retention of water originating from solar wind implantation during agglutinate formation. Anomalously high water contents indicative of interior magmatic sources are observed in several locations, but there is no global correlation between surface composition and water content. Surface water abundance can vary by ~200 ppm over a lunar day, and the upper meter of regolith may contain a total of ~1.2 × 1014 g of water averaged over the globe. Formation and migration of water toward cold traps may thus be a continuous process on the Moon and other airless bodies.

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