Find water on the moon, a presentation for 2nd and 3rd graders
How can we find water
ON THE MOON?
How was the Moon formed?
Young Earth was struck by a
huge asteroid, and debris from
this collision coalesced to form
The Moon was molten in its
early stages, and the crust
solidified from light magma that
floated to the surface.
IS THERE water on the moon?
It looks like a desert to me.
What does water look like?
It just does not look like that on the moon.
How about the atmosphere?
I think you can leave your
umbrella at home.
What are clouds made of again?
How would YOU look for water on
• The moon is far away,
• It has no air to breathe
• Since it has almost no
atmosphere, it is very
COLD or very HOT, hot =
253 F, cold= -243 F. (Water
freezes at 32 F).
• Water is H2O, that is 2
atoms of hydrogen bound to
one atom of oxygen
What about orbiting the moon?
We use the LRO, Lunar Reconnaisance Oribiter, to take detailed photos of
the surface of the moon.
It takes pictures, measures
neutron flux, and measures the
heat on the moon.
This can give us a better idea of
where is a good place to explore
the moon, because the moon is
large, about ¼ the size of Earth.
We do think there is water there.
The dark blue and purple areas at the
poles have neutron emissions* that
indicate hydrogen-rich deposits
covered by dry regolith*.
This may indicate water in the form of
ice or hydrated minerals.
*Regolith is a layer of loose material covering solid
rock. It includes dust, soil, broken rock, and other
*Neutron emission is a type of radioactive decay
of atoms with extra neutrons; the neutron is
ejected from the nucleus.
Finding natural resources, such as
water ice, on the moon could help
A lunar outpost is a stepping stone to
future exploration of other bodies in
our solar system. The moon also offers
many clues about when the planets
Can we smash something into the
moon and look for water?
Totally! We did that in 2009. The mission was
called LCROSS. That stands for Lunar CRater
Observation & Sensing Satellite.
There is a good video here:
We looked at the plume of debris that puffed up after we hit the moon.
– visible cameras,
– ultraviolet cameras,
– infrared cameras
– thermal cameras
– ultraviolet & visible spectrometer*
*A spectrometer measures light and is used
to identify materials.
The moon is already covered with craters
from giant asteroids that hit it.
Light travels in waves
How you detect elements with a
When groups of atoms (in the gas phase)
absorb energy, they emit energy as light
with only certain wavelengths, in a line
If you analyze this light you can tell what
elements are there.
nm = 1 billionth of a meter; there are one
billion nanometers in a meter. There are
10,000,000 (ten million) nanometers in a
What about robots?
Robots don’t have to breathe, and you can attach all kinds of instruments to
them, cameras, drills, spectrometers, thermometers, anything!
We are working on a set of instruments and tools to look for water on the
My favorite rover, k10
K10’s cousin, kRex.
http://irg.arc.nasa.gov is where I work.
We practice on Earth
• In the summer of 2012, we went to the crater in
Hawaii to practice looking for water.
• The “ground” or “science back room” was where I
work, at NASA Ames. This was where the
scientists analyzed the images and information
coming back from the robot and its instruments.
• We worked with a Canadian rover called Artemis
• It had cameras, a drill, an oven, and various
• xGDS is a set of tools I work on in my group to
help the scientists
xGDS Plot – Drill Support
28cm – 50cm
Contact with ground
50cm - 60cm
Drill position at contact
No water signal
Build your own spectrometer
Remember, NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN. You can become blind.
A bunch of images are from NASA’s websites.
Also from Northrup Grummon
Also from Paul Doherty
Also from NASA Ames IRG
And from the Canadian Space Agency