How Water Walks on the Moon

Press Release From: American Physical Society
Posted: Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Moon, Mercury, large asteroids, and satellites of other planets have enough gravity to hold on to molecules, including water, in their "exosphere." The dynamics of the molecules may determine whether they could accumulate at the surface. A researcher in the U.S. has proposed a new model that simplifies the calculation of how molecules hop and migrate within a planet's exosphere. The formalism, based on a combination of random-walk and diffusion theories, can calculate the distribution of the surface concentration of volatile water molecules and is computationally advantageous compared to existing models.

Norbert Schorghofer, "Two-Dimensional Description of Surface-Bounded Exospheres with Application to the Migration of Water Molecules on the Moon," to appear in Physical Review E [].

Matteo Rini
Deputy Editor, Physics
+1 631 591 4224, cell: +1 646 288 5441

Journal articles and preprints are available to journalists on request; contact Matteo Rini.

Physics ( provides daily online-only news and commentary about a selection of papers from the American Physical Society (APS) journal collection. The APS is a nonprofit membership organization working to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics through its outstanding research journals, scientific meetings, and education, outreach, advocacy, and international activities. APS represents over 51,000 members, including physicists in academia, national laboratories, and industry in the United States and throughout the world. Society offices are located in College Park, MD (Headquarters), Ridge, NY, and Washington, DC.

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