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Posts Tagged ‘Water’

12/27/2021 – Ephemeris – Where did Earth’s water come from?

December 27, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Monday, December 27th. Today the Sun will be up for 8 hours and 49 minutes, setting at 5:08, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:19. The Moon, 1 day past last quarter, will rise at 2:02 tomorrow morning.

The element hydrogen has two stable forms: Ordinary hydrogen with a single proton as its nucleus, and deuterium with a proton and a neutron as its nucleus. Both can combine with oxygen to form water. Deuterium and oxygen make heavy water. Water of any kind would not have survived Earth’s formation. Astronomers have long thought that collisions of asteroids and comet brought water to the Earth. Comets, however, have an overabundance of deuterium. Asteroids are close, also dust particles exposed to the solar wind have an under abundance of deuterium. Apparently, about a 50-50 mixture of dust and asteroids appear the right combination to fill the Earth’s with the right ratio of normal and heavy water.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

The three isotopes of hydrogen

The three isotopes of hydrogen: protium, or ordinary hydrogen; deuterium; and tritium. Protium and deuterium are stable, while tritium is unstable and decays into helium 3 and an electron. Tritium has a half-life of 12.32 years.

Heavy water vs. normal water

Heavy water D2O vs. normal water H2O. Heavy water is about 11% heavier than water. A heavy water ice cube would sink in a glass of water.

01/19/2021 – Ephemeris – The Moon is a pretty straight up orb

January 19, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, January 19th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 20 minutes, setting at 5:33, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:13. The Moon, 1 day before first quarter, will set at 12:36 tomorrow morning.

The Earth has an axial tilt to its orbit of the Sun of 23 ½ degrees. So the Earth has seasons, the cycle of which last one orbit of the Sun, or one year. Our Moon on the other hand has a 5 ½ degree axial tilt to its orbit of the Earth, but more importantly for future moon colonists, has only a degree and a half tilt compared to the Earth’s own orbit of the Sun. So there are spots at the north and south poles that never get the Sun’s heat or light. The Moon’s south polar region is more rugged with more and smaller craters than the north, so has collected, over the eons, what seems to be a great amount of water ice that is cold enough to be stable in the vacuum of space. That makes it an ideal place to build a sustainable lunar base.

The event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Map of water at the Moon's poles

The Moon’s south pole area on the left and north pole on the right. The cyan color shows shadowed areas where ice is located. Credit NASA

11/05/2020 – Ephemeris – Water found on the daylit side of the Moon

November 5, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Thursday, November 5th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 58 minutes, setting at 5:25, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:28. The Moon, 3 days before last quarter, will rise at 8:55 this evening.

Last week NASA announced some results from their SOFIA airborne observatory. They had detected the spectral signature of water in a large crater on the Moon named Clavius. This was a high latitude crater, 58.6 degrees south. Supposedly one could process a cubic meter of the regolith to extract a half liter of water. Clavius, which science fiction fans will note was the location of the American base on the Moon in 2001 a Space Odyssey. It is also one of my favorite lunar craters, one of the largest with a distinctive arc of diminishingly sized craters in its floor. As far as resources go, we’ve just literally scratched the surface of the Moon in its equatorial regions with our Apollo and other country’s robotic missions.

The event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Moon with Clavius circled

The Moon as seen from Australia (south up) with the crater Clavius circled. This is the same view of the Moon that users of a Newtonian reflector telescope in the northern hemisphere see, and how I first explored the Moon with my reflecting telescope. Source abc.net.au.

Closeup of Clavius

Closeup of Clavius from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Credit: NASA/LRO.

Sophia Airborne Observatory

The SOFIA Airborne Observatory. A modified Boeing 747 with a 106 inch (2.7 meter) telescope mounted crosswise in its fuselage. It is a joint project between NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and for some reason always on the verge of being canceled. Credit: NASA.

SOFIA is of course an acronym for Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. For more on SOFIA click here: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/SOFIA/index.html.

09/04/2020 – Ephemeris – What area of the Moon is the Artemis program interested in?

September 4, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Friday, September 4th. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 3 minutes, setting at 8:13, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:10. The Moon, 2 days past full, will rise at 9:40 this evening.

Where will Artemis missions land when they get to the Moon? The Apollo missions mostly landed on the flat lunar seas which were really lava plains. The Artemis missions are headed to the Moon’s south polar regions. The Moon, unlike the Earth has very little axial tilt, so some of the crater floors at the poles are forever in shadow and near absolute zero, so are cold traps for volatile matter like water. Satellites over the years have found hydrogen over the south pole of the moon hinting that there is water ice there from impacting comets. There’s also crater peaks that are always in sunlight where solar panels can be erected to provide power throughout the month long lunar day. On the Moon, water is more precious than gold. There’s water in them thar craters!

The event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

South pole ice

The south pole of the Moon where the presence of water ice is detected by the absorption of neutrons by the hydrogen atoms in the ice. Credit NASA/GSFC/SVS/Roscosmos. Notice a theme in the crater names here?

12/10/2019 – Ephemeris – The Moon’s natural resource more precious than gold

December 10, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, December 10th. Today the Sun will be up for 8 hours and 53 minutes, setting at 5:02 the earliest sunset, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:09. The Moon, 2 days before full, will set at 7:22 tomorrow morning.

The Moon is attracting the attention of NASA and the Chinese for crewed landings. The attraction is a natural resource the Moon has. It’s water, or rather ice. There are known water reserves in the Moon’s south polar craters, whose floors never see sunlight. That means they’re very cold. Cold traps they’re called. The Moon has a very little axial tilt so the crater floors are forever cold. They would collect water vapor from passing and colliding comets over the millennia. 10 years ago the second stage of the rocket that placed the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in lunar orbit was crashed into one of the south polar craters followed by a satellite to analyze the ejecta. Water vapor was kicked up by the impact in Cabeus crater.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

South pole ice

The south pole of the Moon where the presence of water ice is detected by the absorption of neutrons by the hydrogen atoms in the ice. Credit NASA/GSFC/SVS/Roscosmos.

You’ll notice that the craters on the the Moon’s south pole are named for Antarctic explorers.  Besides water other volatiles were found: methane, ammonia, hydrogen gas, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.

Categories: Ephemeris Program, NASA Tags: ,

10/10/2019 – Ephemeris – Saturn’s moon Enceladus may have the building blocks of life

October 10, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, October 10th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 15 minutes, setting at 7:07, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:52. The Moon, 3 days before full, will set at 5:23 tomorrow morning.

Even though the Cassini mission to Saturn ended two years ago its data will be will be studied for decades by scientists around the world. One of Cassini’s discoveries were geysers of water ice being ejected from the small moon Enceladus, that creates Saturn’s tenuous E ring. Two instruments aboard Cassini, a mass spectrometer and a cosmic dust analyzer, discovered organic compounds in the geysers and the E ring. Further analysis by German geologists found nitrogen-oxygen molecules among the ice grains. These are like the constituent compounds that make up amino acids which on Earth make up the proteins of life. Currently both NASA and the Europeans are considering return missions to Enceladus.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Enceladus, a small moon of Saturn spews continues to geysers of water rom cracks in its south polar region indicating an ocean below its frozen icy exterior. Sampling the plumes with the right instruments may detect life on this small world without the need for drilling. Credit: NASA/JPL – Caltech

How organic compounds are attached to ice grains and ejected from Enceladus. Credit: NASA/JPL – Caltech.

04/15/2019 – Ephemeris – Why land at the Moon’s south pole?

April 15, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tax Deadline Day Monday, April 15th. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 28 minutes, setting at 8:27, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:57. The Moon, 3 days past first quarter, will set at 5:53 tomorrow morning.

The hottest piece of real estate on the Moon is the south pole. Unlike the Earth’s south pole and the rest of the Moon, except the north pole, there are mountain tops that are always in sunlight. The Moon has a very small axial tilt, only a degree an a half, compared to the Earth’s 23 and a half degrees which plunges the earth’s poles into a 6 month’s night. Another benefit of the small tilt is that the floors of craters at of near the poles never see sunlight, so are hundreds of degrees below zero and can be cold traps for water vapor from passing or colliding comets. Yes, thar’s water in them thar craters. It’s more valuable than gold, providing oxygen to breathe and hydrogen and oxygen for rocket fuel.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

South pole ice

The south pole of the Moon where the presence of water ice is detected by the absorption of neutrons by the hydrogen atoms in the ice. Credit NASA/GSFC/SVS/Roscosmos.

08/02/2018 – Ephemeris – Has liquid water been found on Mars?

August 2, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, August 2nd. The Sun rises at 6:30. It’ll be up for 14 hours and 37 minutes, setting at 9:07. The Moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 12:09 tomorrow morning.

The European Space Agency has announced the possible discovery of liquid water beneath Mars’ southern polar cap. Perhaps it’s like the lakes found under Earth’s Antarctic ice sheet. The discovery was made by the Mars Express orbiter’s ground penetrating radar. Mars south polar cap is primarily made of water ice up to 3.7 kilometers thick, covered in winter by a meter, give or take, thickness of carbon dioxide ice, what we call dry ice. Mars elliptical orbit happens to make southern hemisphere summers short and hot, and winters long and especially cold. Liquid water could exist several kilometers below the martian surface. Mars’ internal heat flow is what NASA’s InSight lander, now en route to Mars is going to tell us.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Mars Express detects water buried under the south pole of Mars

Mars Express detects water buried under the south pole of Mars. Click on the image to enlarge. Credit: European Space Agency (ESA)