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July 11, 2008

Water Found in Lunar Samples

A research team including Prof. James A. Van Orman finds traces of water in lunar volcanic glasses

One of the most striking features of the lunar samples returned by the Apollo missions is their depletion in volatile elements--particularly hydrogen, which appeared to be completely absent. Volatile elements are thought to have been stripped away during the Moon-forming event, a giant collision between the proto-Earth and another proto-planetary body. Now, for the first time, indigenous hydrogen has been detected in primitive lunar volcanic glass beads by a team of researchers from Brown University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, and Case Western Reserve University. The concentration of hydrogen in the samples is very small, less than 50 parts per million-but the distribution of hydrogen and other volatile elements across one of the glass beads indicates that a substantial fraction of the hydrogen, 90% or more, was degassed during eruption. Although the pre-eruptive abundance of hydrogen is not precisely constrained, the best match to the volatile profiles indicates that the mantle source of the lunar volcanic glasses had about the same concentration of water as Earth's depleted upper mantle. In other words, at least one part of the Moon retained some hydrogen during or shortly after the Moon's formation-and possibly quite a bit of it. Read more about this in an article recently published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Saal A.E., Hauri E.H., Lo Cascio M., Van Orman J.A., Rutherford M.C., Cooper R.F. (2008) Volatile content of lunar volcanic glasses and the presence of water in the Moon's interior. Nature 454, 192-195.

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July 09, 2008

Results from first MESSENGER flyby of Mercury

Prof. Steven A. Hauck, II co-authored recent article in Science on data from the MESSENGER laser altimeter.

On January 14, 2008 NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft (short for Mercury Surface Space ENvironment GEochemistry and Ranging) performed the first flyby of Mercury since 1975. During the flyby data were taken from portions of previously unseen portions of the planet. A recent issue of Science magazine contains a special section with 11 papers that detail the first results from observations made during the flyby. Prof. Hauck, a MESSENGER Participating Scientist, co-authored an article on observations made by the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) instrument. The laser altimeter collects topographic data of the surface of the planet. The new results indicate a long-wavelength slope along the equator near the closest approach of the spacecraft that may be indicative of lateral variations in the internal structure of the planet. Among other new results, observations of impact craters along the altimetry profile also suggest a complex modification history of the surface in this region. MESSENGER will make its second of three flybys on October 6, 2008.
For more information, see the MESSENGER mission website, the University news article, and a recent article in the Plain Dealer.
Reference:
Laser Altimeter Observations from MESSENGER's First Mercury Flyby, by Maria T. Zuber, David E. Smith, Sean C. Solomon, Roger J. Phillips, Stanton J. Peale, James W. Head, III, Steven A. Hauck, II, Ralph L. McNutt, Jr., Jürgen Oberst, Gregory A. Neumann, Frank G. Lemoine, Xiaoli Sun, Olivier Barnouin-Jha, and John K. Harmon (4 July 2008)
Science 321 (5885), 77. [DOI: 10.1126/science.1159086]

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July 08, 2008

Graduate student Andreas Ritzer travels to Russia

MESSENGER Mission presented to Russian Collegues

Graduate student Andreas Ritzer traveled to Krasnodar, Russia to give a presentation to Kuban State University about the current NASA mission to Mercury (MESSENGER). Andreas presented to a public audience that included the president of the university as well as some local children. A general overview of the MESSENGER mission was presented outlining the goals of the mission, its general design, and presented the results from the most recent flyby of the planet on January 14, 2008. The talk was given through an interpreter, as most of the Russian public did not speak English. The audience asked many questions after the presentation as it was very enthusiastically received.

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July 07, 2008

Prof. Matisoff and students collect samples on Lake Erie

Prof. Gerald Matisoff, Keely Lavelle, and Rita Cabral Set Sail on Lake Erie to Determine Sediment Oxygen Demand in the Central Basin

Prof. Matisoff, Keely, and Rita went aboard the EPA ship Lake Guardian for a two-day collection cruise. They were able to accompany the ship as it set sail for a dissolved oxygen study. Sediment cores were taken at each of ten sites for dissolved oxygen analysis and micro profiling with oxygen, nitrate, and pH. They are hoping to find a better value for the sediment oxygen demand for the central basin of Lake Erie. This will provide data for calibration of sophisticated sediment biogeochemical models. A second three day cruise is already planned for August to reach more sites, allowing expansion of the data set. Prof. Matisoff and Keely will both be presenting the project to her school, the Hathaway Brown School, in September as part of their Science Research Program.

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