Washington, D.C.—The Moon has much more water than previously thought, a team of scientists led by Carnegie's Erik Hauri has discovered. Their research, published May 26 in ScienceExpress, shows that inclusions of magma trapped within crystals collected during the Apollo 17 mission contain 100 times more water than earlier measurements. These results could markedly change the prevailing theory about the Moon's origin.
The research team used a state-of-the-art NanoSIMS 50L ion microprobe to measure seven tiny samples of magma trapped within lunar crystals as so-called "melt inclusions." These samples came from volcanic glass beads—orange in appearance because of their high titanium content—which contained crystal-hosted melt inclusions. These inclusions were prevented from losing the water within when explosive volcanic eruptions brought them from depth and deposited them on the Moon's surface eons ago.
"In contrast to most volcanic deposits, the melt inclusions are encased in crystals that prevent the escape of water and other volatiles during eruption. These samples provide the best window we have to the amount of water in the interior of the Moon," said James Van Orman of Case Western Reserve University, a member of the science team. The paper's authors are Hauri; Thomas Weinreich, Alberto Saal and Malcolm Rutherford from Brown University; and Van Orman.
Compared with meteorites, Earth and the other inner planets of our solar system contain relatively low amounts of water and volatile elements, which were not abundant in the inner solar system during planet formation. The even lower quantites of these volatile elements found on the Moon has long been claimed as evidence that it must have formed following a high-temperature, catastrophic giant impact. But this new research shows that aspects of this theory must be reevaluated. The study also provides new momentum for returning similar samples from other planetary bodies in the solar system.
"Water plays a critical role in determining the tectonic behavior of planetary surfaces, the melting point of planetary interiors, and the location and eruptive style of planetary volcanoes," said Hauri, a geochemist with Carnegie's Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (DTM). "We can conceive of no sample type that would be more important to return to Earth than these volcanic glass samples ejected by explosive volcanism, which have been mapped not only on the Moon but throughout the inner solar system."
Three years ago the same team, in a study led by Saal, reported the first evidence for the presence of water in lunar volcanic glasses and applied magma degassing models to estimate how much water was originally in the magmas before eruption. Building on that study, Weinreich, a Brown University undergraduate, found the melt inclusions, allowing the team to measure the pre-eruption concentration of water in the magma and estimate the amount of water in the Moon's interior.
"The bottom line," said Saal, "is that in 2008, we said the primitive water content in the lunar magmas should be similar to the water content in lavas coming from the Earth's depleted upper mantle. Now, we have proven that is indeed the case."
The study also puts a new twist on the origin of water ice detected in craters at the lunar poles by several recent NASA missions. The ice has been attributed to comet and meteoroid impacts, but it is possible that some of this ice could have come from the water released by past eruptions of lunar magmas.
These findings should also be taken into account when analyzing samples from other planetary bodies in our solar system. The paper's authors say these results show that their method of analysis is the only way to accurately and directly determine the water content of a planet's interior.
Video Press Release Washington, D.C.—The Moon has much more water than previously thought, a team of scientists led by Carnegie’s Erik Hauri has discovered. Their research, published May 26 in Science Express, shows that inclusions of magma trapped within crystals collected during the Apollo 17 mission contain 100 times more water than earlier measurements. These results could markedly change the prevailing theory about the Moon’s origin.
Hauri and his team looked at bits of rock brought back to Earth in 1972 by astronauts on NASA's Apollo 17 mission. Specifically, the researchers analyzed pieces called melt inclusions, which are minuscule globules of lunar magma encased within solid crystals. [Infographic: Inside Earth's Moon]
These crystals prevented the magma's water from gassing out during the eruption, thereby largely preserving the original water content of the underground rock.
So melt inclusions are special. They're also rare, and finding the tiny structures in the small store of moon rocks available to researchers was by no means a given. But co-author Thomas Weinreich, at the time a freshman at Brown University, spotted some while poring over the Apollo 17 samples.
"A kid a year out of high school found these for us," Hauri told SPACE.com "That was pretty amazing in and of itself."
Other researchers had found melt inclusions in lunar samples before, but until now nobody had been able to measure their water content. Using a specialized ion microprobe, the team scrutinized seven melt inclusions, the largest just 30 microns across — smaller than the diameter of a human hair.
Backscatter electron image of a lunar melt inclusion from Apollo 17 sample 74220, enclosed within an olivine crystal. The inclusion is 30 microns in diameter. CREDIT: John Armstrong, Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution of Washington
The general consensus is that the Moon formed and evolved through a single or series of catastrophic heating
events in which most of the highly volatile elements, especially hydrogen, were evaporated away. That notion has
changed with the new report showing evidences of indigenous water in lunar volcanic glasses 
Because these glasses are the most primitive melts erupted on the surface of the satellite, this result represents the best evidence for the presence of a deep source within the Moon relatively rich in volatile. Here
we report new volatile data (C, H2O, F, S, Cl) for over 200 individual Apollo 15 lunar glasses with composition ranging from very-low to high Ti contents (sample 15427,41; 15426,138; 15426,32). Our new SIMS detection limits (~0.15 ppm C; ~0.4 ppm H2O, ~0.05 ppm F, ~0.21 ppm S, ~ 0.04 ppm Cl by weight determined by the repeated analysis of synthetic forsterite located on each sample mount), represent at least 2 orders of magnitude improvement over previous analytical techniques. After background correction the volatile contents have the following ranges: C 0-0.14± 0.13 ppm is within background; 0-70 ± 0.4 ppm for H2O; 1.6-60 ± 0.1 ppm for F; 58-885 ± 1.3 ppm for S; and 0-3 ± 0.02 ppm for Cl. Our new values represent an increase in the volatile concentrations by a factor of 2 from previously reported data [1.] Two outstanding features of the data are the significant correlation among H2O, Cl, F and S contents, and the clear relationship between the volatile and the major element contents of the glasses. The data support the hypothesis that there were significant differences in the initial volatile content, and/or the mechanism of degassing and eruption among these glasses was different. Most importantly, the data suggest that the measured H2O is indigenous to the Moon. Our results suggest that, contrary to the prevailing ideas, the bulk Moon is not uniformly depleted in highly volatile elements, and the presence of water, in particular, must be included to constrain models for the thermal and chemical evolution of the Moonís interior.
Water on the Moon 100 X Higher Than Previously Measured: A Watershed Discovery
A team of NASA-funded researchers has measured for the first time water from the moon in the form of tiny globules of molten rock, which have turned to glass-like material trapped within crystals. Data from these newly-discovered lunar melt inclusions indicate the water content of lunar magma is 100 times higher than previous studies suggested.
The inclusions were found in lunar sample 74220, the famous high-titanium "orange glass soil" of volcanic origin collected during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. The scientific team used a state-of-the-art ion microprobe instrument to measure the water content of the inclusions, which were formed during explosive eruptions on the moon approximately 3.7 billion years ago.
The results published in the May 26 issue of Science Express raise questions about aspects of the "giant impact theory" of how the moon was created. That theory predicted very low water content of lunar rock due to catastrophic degassing during the collision of Earth with a Mars-sized body very early in its history.
"Water plays a critical role in determining the tectonic behavior of planetary surfaces, the melting point of planetary interiors and the location and eruptive style of planetary volcanoes," said Erik Hauri, a geochemist with the Carnegie Institution of Washington and lead author of the study. "I can conceive of no sample type that would be more important to return to Earth than these volcanic glass samples ejected by explosive volcanism, which have been mapped not only on the moon but throughout the inner solar system."
"First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish."—President John F. Kennedy, Joint Session of Congress, May 25, 1961
Was President Kennedy a dreamer, a visionary, or simply politically astute? We may never know, but he had the courage to make that bold proposal 50 years ago Wednesday. The Soviet Union's Yuri Gagarin had completed an orbit of the Earth the previous month and electrified the world. The United States had taken only one human, Alan Shepard, above 100 miles altitude and none into orbit. Americans, embarrassed by the successes of our Cold War adversary, were eager to demonstrate that we too were capable of great achievements in space.
A half century has passed since Kennedy challenged our citizenry to do what most thought to be impossible. The subsequent American achievements in space were remarkable: Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Skylab. Our efforts enhanced international cooperation with Apollo-Soyuz, the space shuttle and the International Space Station. The compelling fascination of our space achievements among young people spurred their interest in education.
By 2005, in keeping with President Kennedy's intent and America's resolve, NASA was developing the Constellation program, focusing on a return to the moon while simultaneously developing the plans and techniques to venture beyond, and eventually to Mars.
The response to Kennedy's bold challenge a half-century ago has led to America's unchallenged leadership in space. We take enormous pride in all that has been accomplished in the past 50 years. And we have the people, the skills and the wherewithal to continue to excel and reach challenging goals in space exploration.
But today, America's leadership in space is slipping. NASA's human spaceflight program is in substantial disarray with no clear-cut mission in the offing. We will have no rockets to carry humans to low-Earth orbit and beyond for an indeterminate number of years. Congress has mandated the development of rocket launchers and spacecraft to explore the near-solar system beyond Earth orbit. But NASA has not yet announced a convincing strategy for their use. After a half-century of remarkable progress, a coherent plan for maintaining America's leadership in space exploration is no longer apparent.
Former Senator Schmitt Proposes Dismantling of NASA and Creation of a New, National Space Exploration Administration (NSEA)
On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced to a special joint session of Congress the dramatic and ambitious goal of sending an American to the Moon and returning him safely to Earth by the end of that decade. President Kennedy’s confidence that this Cold War goal could be accomplished rested on the post-Sputnik decision by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to form the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and, in January 1960, to direct NASA to begin the development of what became the Saturn V rocket. This release of a collection of essays on Space Policy and the Constitution commemorates President Kennedy’s decisive challenge 50 years ago to a generation of young Americans and the remarkable success of those young Americans in meeting that challenge.
How notions of leadership have changed since Eisenhower and Kennedy! Immense difficulties now have been imposed on the Nation and NASA by the budgetary actions and inactions of the Bush and Obama Administrations between 2004 and 2012. Space policy gains relevance today comparable to 50 years ago as the dangers created by the absence of a coherent national space policy have been exacerbated by subsequent adverse events. Foremost among these events have been the Obama Administration’s and the Congress’s spending and debt spree, the continued aggressive rise of China, and, with the exception of operations of the Space Shuttle and International Space Station, the loss of focus and leadership within NASA headquarters.
By Dr. Harrison H. Schmitt. Preface: (“Is there a path forward for United States’ space policy? When a new President takes office in 2013, he or she should propose to Congress that we start space policy and its administration from scratch. A new agency, the National Space Exploration Administration (NSEA), should be charged with specifically enabling America’s and its partners’ exploration of deep space, inherently stimulating education, technology, and national focus. The existing component parts of NASA should be spread among other agencies with the only exception being activities related to U.S. obligations to its partners in the International Space Station (ISS).” — HHS). The Foreword was written by Michael D. Griffin, noted physicist, aerospace engineer and NASA Administrator (2005-2009): (“Jack makes the case for space as no one else can, and he shows how and why we are on the wrong path— leaving the rest of us with the question: what can we do to obtain the leadership we need instead of the leadership we have?”— MDG).
WASHINGTON -- Fifty years ago, a young president struggling with deepening international issues set a fledgling space agency on a course that would change the history of human exploration. NASA commemorates President John F. Kennedy's historic speech that sent humans safely to the moon with a series of activities and a commitment to continue the journey of discovery and exploration that started with a desperate race into space.
"We are moving into a bright new future that builds on a challenge presented to us 50 years ago," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "It is important that we remember our history but we must always look forward toward a brighter future. Our advantage now is that we have five decades of accomplishment and world leadership in space on which to build. The dreams President Kennedy helped make real for our world, and the dreams we still hold, may appear to be just out of reach but they are not out of our grasp."
On this date in 1961, Kennedy addressed a joint session of Congress, with a worldwide television audience, and announced, "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth." This was seen as a bold mandate because America's experience up to this point was Alan Shepard's suborbital Freedom 7 mission, which launched just a few weeks earlier and lasted about 15 minutes.
"Today, we have another young and vibrant president who has outlined an urgent national need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build our competitors and create new capabilities that will take us farther into the solar system, and help us learn even more about our place in the universe," Bolden added. "We stand at a moonshot moment once again, where we have a chance to make great leaps forward to new destinations, develop new vehicles and technologies, and new ways of exploring."
To commemorate the address that launched NASA into history, the agency has scheduled several events and historic multimedia perspectives, including:
-- A special concert at 7 p.m. EDT tonight at the John F. Kennedy
Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. The one-hour concert
will feature the Space Philharmonic, Administrator Bolden,
astronauts, Kennedy family representatives and special guests. There
are a limited number of tickets available for the public. For more
information, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/jTOKZt
-- Video and other multimedia material from President Kennedy's speech
are available on NASA Television and on the agency's Internet
homepage http://www.nasa.govalong with information about the
agency's future exploration initiatives.
-- A message from the administrator about NASA's next moonshot moment
and moving beyond Earth orbit is available on his blog at: http://bit.ly/fNjTS2
-- An announcement later today that represents an important step in
executing the president's exploration objectives and could pave the
way for extending humanity's reach beyond low-Earth orbit and further
-- NASA and the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in
Washington present "NASA | ART," from May 28 to Oct. 9. The exhibit
features more than 70 paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures,
and other forms of art illustrating the agency's mission. Admission
is free, and the exhibit is located at the Air and Space Museum's
building at Sixth Street and Independence Ave. SW.