Lunar water is water that is present on the Moon. Liquid water cannot persist at the Moon's surface, and water vapour is quickly decomposed by sunlight and lost to outer space. However, scientists have since the 1960s conjectured that water ice could survive in cold, permanently shadowed craters at the Moon's poles.
Water, and the chemically related hydroxyl group ( · OH), can also exist in forms chemically bound to lunar minerals (rather than as free water), and evidence strongly suggests that this is indeed the case in low concentrations over much of the Moon's surface. In fact, adsorbed water is calculated to exist at trace concentrations of 10 to 1000 parts per million.
Inconclusive evidence of free water ice at the lunar poles was accumulated from a variety of observations suggesting the presence of bound hydrogen. In September 2009, India's Chandrayaan-1 detected water on the Moon and hydroxyl absorption lines in reflected sunlight. In November 2009, NASA reported that its LCROSS space probe had detected a significant amount of hydroxyl group in the material thrown up from a south polar crater by an impactor; this may be attributed to water-bearing materials – what appears to be "near pure crystalline water-ice". In March 2010, it was reported that the Mini-RF on board the India's Chandrayaan-1 had discovered more than 40 permanently darkened craters near the Moon's north pole which are hypothesized to contain an estimated 600 million metric tonnes(1.3 trillion pounds) of water-ice.
Water may have been delivered to the Moon over geological timescales by the regular bombardment of water-bearing comets, asteroids and meteoroids or continuously produced in situ by the hydrogen ions (protons) of the solar wind impacting oxygen-bearing minerals.
The search for the presence of lunar water has attracted considerable attention and motivated several recent lunar missions, largely because of water's usefulness in rendering long-term lunar habitation feasible.
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