Indian Scientists find Endogenous water on the Moon


In a latest development in the field of science, Indian scientists from the Space Applications Centre (SAC) of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in Ahmedabad have found evidence of water of volcanic origin, a team led by Satadru Bhattacharya. Unlike previous findings indicating the presence of water-containing igneous surface, this water has originated from deep within the Moon’s interior.

What are the findings by Indian Scientists?

Indian researchers have detected the endogenous water in the igneous surface on the Moon’s non-polar region. So far, scientists had believed lunar rocks do not contain water and that any water detected in lunar samples was either due to contamination from the Earth or produced by solar wind and other exogenous extra-lunar sources.  However, after analyzing the spectral data of the Compton-Belkovich Volcanic Complex (CBVC) region on the far side of the Moon obtained by the NASA instrument Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3), which was sent aboard the Indian lunar mission Chandrayaan-1, India researchers have detected a significant concentration of the water— 0.55% by weight — which is the highest ever found on the Moon. The geology of CBVC area in the non-polar region of moon is quite different from the polar regions and has also high silica content.


The presence of endogenous water/hydroxyl molecules was inferred from the distinct and prominent absorption lines in the 2800 nm wavelength region observed in spectra of the Compton-Berkovich Thorium Anomaly (CBTA) region of the complex. The CBTA region is an area of high concentration of radioactive thorium of about 5.3 microgram/gram while the surrounding areas contain only 0.06 microgram/gram of thorium. It has an area of 32 km x 18 km.

The Indian finding has been reported in the latest on-line edition of the journal Current Science .

Previous findings:

The Indian findings have come after a similar work based on M3 data on the central peak of the volcanic crater Bullialdus, reported by R. Klima and associates recently. The findings observed that presence of water could be of magmatic or volcanic origin as the non-polar Bullialdus crater region is an unfavourable environment for solar wind to produce significant amounts of water on the surface.  Indian researchers have reported the findings relating to a different volcanic region which supports the previous finding.

The work of Klima and others too had found an enhancement of concentration of elements such as Thorium in the central peak of Bullialdus. The two findings together suggest that all the endogenous hydrogen present at the time of formation of Moon did not boil off and remained trapped at the certain locations on the Moon associated with primary magmatic minerals such as thorium. The presence of such endogenous water could call for revision of models of Moon’s origin, points out Dr. Chauhan.

 Summary of Previous Finding of presence of water-containing Igneous Surface

(Pic Courtesy: ISRO)

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