Water presence on Moon may hamper plans for lunar astronomy

September 21st, 2010 - 2:11 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Sept 21 (ANI): Space scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences are concerned that the recent discovery of water on the moon could hamper lunar astronomy.

They said that the scattering caused by molecules vaporized in sunlight could heavily distort observations from telescopes mounted on the Moon.

“Last year, scientists discovered a fine dew of water covering the Moon. This water vaporizes in sunlight and is then broken down by ultraviolet radiation, forming hydrogen and hydroxyl molecules,” said Zhao Hua.

“At certain ultraviolet wavelengths, hydroxyl molecules cause a particular kind of scattering where photons are absorbed and rapidly re-emitted. Our calculations suggest that this scattering will contaminate observations by sunlit telescopes,” he added.

Lunar-based telescopes could have several advantages over telescopes on Earth, including a cloudless sky and low seismic activity.

The far side of the Moon could be an ideal site for radio astronomy, being permanently shielded from interference from the Earth. The higher hydroxyl levels would not affect radio observations. (ANI)

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