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ISRO confirms presence of water molecule on Moon

Last updated on: September 24, 2009 23:31 IST

In a major breakthrough, the Indian Space Research Organisation has for the first time formally confirmed the presence of water molecule on the lunar surface of the moon.

A release from ISRO states that Hydroxyl, a molecule consisting one oxgen atom and one hydrogen atom, was also found in the lunar soil.

The scientific team, after detailed analysis, has come to the conclusion that there are traces of hydroxyl (OH) and water (H2O) molecules on the surface of the moon closer to the polar region.

It is also concluded that they are in the form of a thin layer embedded in rocks and chemical compounds on the surface of the moon and the quantity is also extremely small of the order of about 700 ppm.

These molecules could have come from the impact of comets or radiation from the sun. But most probable source could be low energy hydrogen carried by solar wind impacting on the minerals on lunar surface. This in turn forms OH or H2O molecules by deriving the oxygen from metal oxide.

The data obtained from M3, which has clearly indicated the presence of water molecules on the lunar surface extending from lunar poles.

The confirmation of water molecules and hydroxyl molecule in the moon's polar regions raises new questions about its origin and its effect on the mineralogy of the moon.

The findings from M3 onboard Chandrayaan-1 clearly shows a marked signature in the infrared region of 2.7 to 3.2 micron in the absorption spectrum, which provided a clear indication of the presence of hydroxyl and water molecules.

Chandrayaan-1, India's first mission to Moon, was launched with the prime objective of finding traces of water on the lunar surface besides mapping minerals and chemicals on the Moon.

Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru