NASA has just published two studies that prove beyond doubt the presence of water on the Moon and in sunlit regions. Both articles are published in this week’s edition of the British scientific journal Nature Astronomy. And the results, of course, have important implications for future lunar missions.
Maybe the ad sounds like a repeating figure, but it’s very illustrative of how science works. Indeed, for some time we have had a strong suspicion that there is water trapped at the bottom of the Moon’s polar craters, and the first suspicion dates back to data collected with the American probe Clementine, in the late 1990s. a little commented jump: they were based on an infrared light signature with a wavelength of 3 micrometers (or on the detection of neutrons, linked to the presence of hydrogen). But this signal could be water, H2O or other hydroxyls, i.e. compounds with HO, trapped in minerals.
This, therefore, is the first time that this difficulty has been overcome. In one of the articles, led by Casey Honniball of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, a group of researchers reports the results obtained with SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy – actually a Boeing adapted by NASA and equipped with a telescope to make observations in the stratosphere. They detected a spectral signature of water, with a wavelength of 6 micrometers, which does not match other hydroxyl compounds. That is, it can only be water.
Read more in Folha de S.Paulo.