Water found on the sunlit surface of the Moon


The researchers found that the Moon contains more water than previously thought, even on its sunlit surface.

Scientists have discovered more frozen water than expected in the dark and shaded parts of the moon and the presence of liquid in the parts that receive the sun as well. They did this using NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). This is a modified Boeing aircraft that flies over most of our atmosphere observing phenomena and objects in space that other telescopes lack.

While SOFIA is usually used to look at distant and faint objects such as black holes, this was a special project aimed at finding out what would have happened if it were aimed at an object closer to our Earth.

“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. “

The issue of water in space, particularly our closest celestial neighbor, has been on the top of the minds of space explorers since humans first entered orbit. If a planet or celestial body has water, there is a better chance of sustaining human life.

“Before SOFIA’s observations, we knew there was some kind of hydration,” said Casey Honniball, the lead author who published the results of his dissertation work at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa in Honolulu. “But we didn’t know how many, if any, were actually water molecules – like we drink every day – or something more like a drain cleaner.”

There are still many questions regarding this find such as those posed by Honniball. NASA plans to complete follow-up flights that will search for water in additional sunlit locations and during the different phases of the moon to learn more about how water is produced, stored and moved across the Moon.

This discovery and subsequent data are more important than ever as NASA plans to send a man and woman to the moon as part of the Artemis mission in 2024.

Image: NASA

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