Science

NASA confirms the presence of water on the sunlit surface of the Moon

PHOTO CREDITS: NASA

According to FOX News, NASA announced it has discovered water on the sunlit side of the Moon.

The water was discovered near the Clavius crater, one of the largest crater formations on the Moon, and also one that can be seen with the naked eye, said Paul Hayne, a planetary scientist at the University of Colorado, during a conference call. Hayne is the lead author of one of the studies published on the topic.

Casey Honniball, the lead author of the other study, said there are between 100 and 400 parts per million of water, or “roughly the equivalent of a 12-ounce bottle of water within a cubic meter of lunar soil.” The study led by Honniball found the presence of water directly on the surface, while Hayne’s study theorized that water may be trapped in “small spatial scales” all over the surface of the Moon.

The existence of water on the Moon has been known for some time now, with the first discovery of water vapor as early as 1971. In 2009, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter detected the presence of frozen water near the poles. Honniball added in a statement “Prior to the SOFIA observations, we knew there was some kind of hydration, but we didn’t know how much, if any, was actually water molecules like we drink every day or something like drain cleaner.”

The discovery was made with NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, described as “the world’s largest airborne observatory.” SOFIA is a modified Boeing 747 airplane capable of flying high in Earth’s atmosphere to allow its 9-foot telescope to get a “clear view of the universe and objects in our solar system.” It detects infrared wavelengths to be able to observe “phenomena impossible to see with visible light,” according to NASA.

The new studies note water could be significantly more accessible than previously thought. With this, the water could be used for drinking and fuel by breaking the bonds of water to get hydrogen and oxygen using a process called electrolysis. The findings come in advance of NASA’s Artemis program, which plans to land American astronauts on the moon by 2024 and create a sustainable presence on Earth’s natural satellite. Understanding where there is water on the Moon will help determine where the Artemis astronauts will touch down.

ARTICLE: JOSEPH MODICA

SCIENCE/HEALTH EDITOR: KYLE SMITH

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