Researchers Find New Evidence of Water on the Moon | Current world | DW


For a long time the satellite was considered dry bone. Then, however, the scientists found water molecules in magma samples brought to Earth by astronauts. Two studies now show: There is probably even more water on the moon than expected.

There are indications of both water molecules on the surface and areas on the moon where water could be permanently preserved as ice, two teams of scientists report in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Scientists investigate “cold traps”

In the first study, researchers around Casey Honniball of the University of Hawaii in Honolulu analyzed data from the “Sofia” flying observatory. While investigating the Clavius ​​crater south of the Earth’s satellite, they found evidence of water molecules. They suspect that these could be kept mainly in glass beads or in crevices in the rubble on the surface. In general, they assume that water molecules are more likely to occur in areas near the polar than in other regions closer to the lunar equator.

In the second study, a team led by Paul Hayne of the University of Colorado specifically looked for craters, crevices, and small areas where water ice could form. Using data from NASA’s “Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter” and theoretical models, they looked for so-called cold traps – areas that are permanently in the shade where frozen water could be preserved due to constant cold. In addition to impact craters, this also includes smaller areas that are always shielded from the sun’s rays.

According to the study, an area of ​​40,000 square kilometers could be in permanent shadow on the moon – about twice what other studies have assumed. In theory, frozen water could be stored there. As expected, most of these regions are found in the polar regions of the celestial body; researchers identify 60% of areas in the southern hemisphere.

Flash Gallery Space Telescope SOFIA (NASA)

The “Sofia” flying observatory is a 43-year-old Boeing 747SP (archive photo)

“If you imagine standing on the lunar surface near one of the poles, you would see shadows everywhere,” Hayne reads in a statement from her university. “Many of these little shadows could be covered in ice.” Researchers cite Shackleton Crater at the South Pole, which is more than four kilometers deep and over 20 kilometers in diameter, as an example of larger areas with water ice.

Lunar water for Mars rockets

It is not clear where the water on the moon came from. French space researcher Francis Rocard of the CNES science center assumes it reached Earth’s satellite through asteroid impacts. The water molecules penetrated so deeply into the lunar surface that they were “trapped forever” there.

Water resources on the moon would be particularly important for future lunar missions, not just as drinking water for astronauts. If it were possible to use the moon’s water to transport it to the planned Lunar Gateway mini-station, further missions could become much easier and cheaper. Rocard spoke of the use of probes that could collect water on the moon to “supply” Mars rockets.

mir / rb (dpa, afp, rtr)


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