Water Vapor from a Lunar Breccia: Implications for Evolving Planetary Atmospheres

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Science  15 Jun 1973:
Vol. 180, Issue 4091, pp. 1166-1168
DOI: 10.1126/science.180.4091.1166


The exposure of a typical complex lunar breccia to hydrogen after a thorough outgassing produces a fully reduced surface state. Subsequent outgassing over a wide temperature range results in the production of water vapor formed from the chemisorbed hydrogen and oxygen from the lunar sample; the proposed mechanism has been confirmed in terms of the chemisorption of deuterium and the release of heavy water. Since the conditions of the experiments are consistent with those on the lunar surface, it is postulated that water vapor will be produced on the moon through the interaction of the solar wind with lunar soil. It is also proposed that such a process could play an important role in the early history of many planets where an oxygen-rich soil is exposed to a reducing atmosphere.