The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has confirmed water Moon for the first time.
This discovery was made on the bright side of the moon.
The discovery indicates that the water could be distributed along the surface and not limited to cold places and permanent shade.
More specifically, SOFIA has detected water molecules (H2O) in the Clavius crater, one of the largest and most visible from Earth, located in the lunar southern hemisphere.
Previous observations of the Moon’s surface had detected some form of hydrogen, yet they had not been able to distinguish between water and its closest relative, hydroxide (OH).
Data from the location reveal water in concentrations between 100 and 412 parts per million – equivalent to a bottle of about 0.35 liters of water – trapped in a cubic meter of soil spread across the surface.
The detailed results have been published in the latest issue of Nature Astronomy.
“We had indications that H2O – the familiar water we know – might be present on the illuminated side of our satellite,” said Paul Hertz, director of the Division of Astrophysics in NASA’s Mission Science Directorate. Now we know it’s there.
The discovery challenges our understanding of the lunar surface and raises intriguing questions about the resources relevant to deep space exploration.
By comparison, the Sahara desert has 100 times the amount of water detected by SOFIA in the lunar soil. Even so, and despite the small amount, the finding leads us to wonder how that water got there and how it persists in such conditions.
Water is an extremely precious resource in space and a fundamental ingredient for life as we know it. But… could what SOFIA found be something easily accessible? That is something that has yet to be determined.
With NASA’s Artemis program in progress, the agency is rushing to learn as much as possible about the presence of water on the Moon, in preparation to send the first woman and the next man to the lunar surface in 2024 and establish a permanent presence by the end of the decade.
Source: NASA .
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