345-14 Adsorption of Water on JSC-1a Lunar Simulant Samples

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See more from this Session: Living on a Dusty Moon

Thursday, 9 October 2008: 11:15 AM
George R. Brown Convention Center, 310AD

Uwe Burghaus1, John Goering1, Shweta Sah1 and Kenneth W. Street Jr2, (1)Chemistry Department, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND
(2)Tribology & Surface Science, NASA-GRC, Cleveland, OH
Remote sensing probes sent to the moon in the 1990s indicated that water may exist in areas such as the bottoms of deep, permanently shadowed craters at the lunar poles, buried under regolith. Water is of paramount importance for any lunar exploration and colonization project which would require self-sustainable systems. Therefore, investigating the interaction of water with lunar regolith is pertinent to future exploration. The lunar environment can be approximated in ultra-high vacuum systems such as those used in thermal desorption spectroscopy (TDS). Questions about water dissociation, surface wetting, degree of crystallization, details of water-ice transitions, and cluster formation kinetics can be addressed by TDS.

Lunar regolith specimens collected during the Apollo missions are still available though precious, so testing with simulant is required before applying to use lunar regolith samples. Hence, we used for these studies JSC-1a, mostly an aluminosilicate glass and basaltic material containing substantial amounts of plagioclase, some olivine and traces of other minerals.

Objectives of this project include: 1) Manufacturing samples using as little raw material as possible, allowing the use of surface chemistry and kinetics tools to determine the feasibility of parallel studies on regolith, and 2) Characterizing the adsorption kinetics of water on the regolith simulant. This has implications for the probability of finding water on the moon and, if present, for recovery techniques.

For condensed water films, complex TDS data were obtained containing multiple features, which are related to subtle rearrangements of the water adlayer. Results from JSC-1a TDS studies indicate: 1) Water dissociation on JSC-1a at low exposures, with features detected at temperatures as high as 450 K and 2) The formation of 3D water clusters and a rather porous condensed water film. It appears plausible that the sub-ƒÝm sized particles act as nucleation centers.

See more from this Division: Topical Sessions
See more from this Session: Living on a Dusty Moon