Water Released from Moon During Meteor Showers

  • Released Monday, April 15, 2019

Scientists have discovered that water is being released from the Moon during meteor showers. When a speck of comet debris strikes the Moon it vaporizes on impact, creating a shock wave in the lunar soil. For a sufficiently large impactor, this shock wave can breach the soil’s dry upper layer and release water molecules from a hydrated layer below. The LADEE spacecraft detects these water molecules as they enter the tenuous lunar atmosphere, with peaks in the water signal correlating to known meteor showers on Earth. The discovery of water just beneath the Moon’s surface provides a potential resource for future exploration, and it improves our understanding the Moon’s geologic past and its continued evolution.

ANIMATION - This artist's concept depicts meteor showers sweeping over the Earth and Moon, causing the LADEE spacecraft (not shown) to measure spikes in the lunar water signal.

STILL IMAGE - In this artist’s concept, the LADEE spacecraft (left) observes trace amounts of water escaping the Moon’s surface during bombardment by micrometeoroids (right).Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Conceptual Image Lab

STILL IMAGE - In this artist’s concept, the LADEE spacecraft (left) observes trace amounts of water escaping the Moon’s surface during bombardment by micrometeoroids (right).

Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Conceptual Image Lab

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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

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This page was originally published on Monday, April 15, 2019.
This page was last updated on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 at 1:46 PM EDT.


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