Remote-sensing data from lunar orbiters have revealed spectral features consistent with the presence of OH or H2O on the lunar surface. Analyses of data from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper spectrometer onboard the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft have suggested that OH/H2O is recycled on diurnal timescales and persists only at high latitudes. However, the spatial distribution and temporal variability of the OH/H2O, as well as its source, remain uncertain. Here we incorporate a physics-based thermal correction into analysis of reflectance spectra from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper and find that prominent absorption features consistent with OH/H2O can be present at all latitudes, local times and surface types examined. This suggests the widespread presence of OH/H2O on the lunar surface without significant diurnal migration. We suggest that the spectra are consistent with the production of OH in space-weathered materials by the solar wind implantation of H+ and formation of OH at crystal defect sites, as opposed to H2O sourced from the lunar interior. Regardless of the specific composition or formation mechanism, we conclude that OH/H2O can be present on the Moon under thermal conditions more wide-ranging than previously recognized.
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We would like to acknowledge funding by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter program and Lunar Data Analysis Program grant NNX16AN63G. Our work benefited from discussions with the LRO Diviner science team, S. Li, and R. Milliken.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Bandfield, J.L., Poston, M.J., Klima, R.L. et al. Widespread distribution of OH/H2O on the lunar surface inferred from spectral data. Nature Geosci 11, 173–177 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-018-0065-0
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