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Simulations and Measurements of Water from Impacts on the Moon

Author: 
Dana Hurley
Topic: 
Volatiles
Delivered As: 
Oral
Abstract Text: 

Water on the moon is of great interest both as a marker of volatiles in the inner solar system and as a potential resource for solar system exploration. Multiple lunar missions have demonstrated that water is enhanced on the surface in lunar polar regions, especially in regions of persistent shadow. In addition, LADEE detected sporadic exospheric water events that are correlated with meteoroid impacts. Here we present simulations of the meteoroid-produced water exosphere of the Moon. A model computes the evolution of the impact plume over time. It is convolved with the production function of impacts to produce a background state of the lunar water exosphere. Next we examine minimum water release, the spatial and temporal extent of the vapor plume, and the relative velocity of the particles compared to LADEE to examine the detectability by LADEE from orbit. This produces an expectation of frequency of water events detectable from orbit. Comparison with LADEE data constrains the model and determines the abundance of water released into the exosphere from meteoroids. We further simulate the delivery of water from meteoroids to cold traps at the lunar poles in Permanently Shadowed Regions and discuss the potential contribution to the inventory of volatiles sequestered therein.

Co-Authors: 
Nathan Marx, Jair PiƱeros, Jack Burns, Chris Norman from Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company
SSERVI Identifier: 
NESF2016-070

About SSERVI
Recognizing that science and human exploration are mutually enabling, NASA created the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) to address basic and applied scientific questions fundamental to understanding the Moon, Near Earth Asteroids, the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos, and the near space environments of these target bodies. As a virtual institute, SSERVI funds investigators at a broad range of domestic institutions, bringing them together along with international partners via virtual technology to enable new scientific efforts."