NI news: NASA discovered water on the lunar surface aided by West Belfast company


A Northern Ireland company helped NASA confirm water on the moon’s sunlit surface for the first time.

The discovery, led by NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), indicates that water can be distributed across the entire surface of the moon and not just in cold, shady places.

Andor Technologies, based in West Belfast, is a world leader in the design and manufacture of high performance scientific imaging cameras.

And the company’s “iXon EMCCD” technology was at the heart of the recent space discovery.

Andrew Dennis, Director of Product Management at Andor Technologies, said the primary imaging device that stabilizes the telescope system on SOFIA is based on Andor’s technology.

“The Moon observations we’re working with now – including those humidity levels, for example – will be absolutely critical in the exploration of Mars, as they won’t have to carry water from Earth to the Moon (and) to Mars as part of the next round of missions, ”he told the BBC Evening Extra.

“A base on the Moon is the first step towards future exploration of the red planet – and finding water there to do so was a key discovery. I would be amazed if, in this decade, we don’t get both men and women landing on Mars.” he added.

SOFIA has detected water molecules (H2O) in Clavius ​​Crater, one of the largest visible craters from Earth, located in the southern hemisphere of the Moon.

Previous observations of the Moon’s surface have detected some form of hydrogen, but have not been able to distinguish between water and its close chemical relative, hydroxyl (OH). Data from this location reveals water in concentrations between 100 and 412 parts per million – roughly equivalent to a 12-ounce water bottle – trapped in one cubic meter of soil scattered across the lunar surface.

“We had indications that H2O – the familiar water we know – may be present on the sunny side of the moon,” said Paul Hertz, director of the Division of Astrophysics of the Directorate of Science Mission at NASA’s Washington headquarters.

“Now we know it’s there. This discovery challenges our understanding of the lunar surface and raises intriguing questions about resources relevant to deep space exploration. “

By way of comparison, the Sahara desert has 100 times more water than SOFIA detects in the lunar soil. Despite the small quantities, the discovery raises new questions about how water is created and how it persists on the hard, airless lunar surface, NASA says.


Source link