This latest discovery by NASA states the presence of water molecules trapped in the lunar soil, with the presence of Sunlight.
The discovery suggests that molecular water is found on the ‘sunlit’ surface of the Moon. The discovery by Dr. Casey Honniball from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center indicates that water may be distributed across the lunar surface and not just limited to cold, shadowed places of the moon.
This discovery was made using NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) Airborne Telescope. Water on the moon is not a relatively new revelation as previously ice was said to be stored in the permanently shadowed ‘cold traps’ at the lunar polar regions. It was suspected that large amounts of frozen water are present in the deep areas of the Moon, which never see the Sun.
However, they were unable to distinguish between water (H20) and hydroxyl, a molecule made up of one hydrogen atom and one oxygen atom. Lunar water, which is the water present on the moon, was said to cease to exist at the Moon’s surface while water vapor is decomposed by the sunlight with hydrogen quickly lost to the outer space. This new study challenges the proportion of previous studies.
Now, it clearly states that the Moon holds molecular water, even in the sunlit areas and not just the shadowed places of the moon. This is the moon’s south pole where liquid water molecules have been discovered.
Honniball and her colleagues found traces of water trapped in small glass beads in the lunar soil. The moon was believed to be ‘dry’ until a decade ago, now following the series of findings has raised new questions about the existence of water, the sustainability of it in the airless lunar surface.
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NEWS: We confirmed water on the sunlit surface of the Moon for the 1st time using @SOFIAtelescope. We don’t know yet if we can use it as a resource, but learning about water on the Moon is key for our #Artemis exploration plans. Join the media telecon at https://t.co/vOGoSHt74c pic.twitter.com/7p2QopMhod— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) October 26, 2020
For the 1st time, molecular water was discovered on a sunlit surface of the Moon, suggesting water may not be limited to cold, shadowed places. Goddard postdoc Dr. Casey Honniball, made the discovery using NASA's @SOFIAtelescope airborne observatory. https://t.co/TUFKK8Rl9x pic.twitter.com/1wiy05yS4r— NASA Goddard (@NASAGoddard) October 26, 2020