The National Space and Aeronautics Administration (NASA) on Monday, 26 October, confirmed the presence of water on the sunlit surface of the Moon.
NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has confirmed, for the first time, water on the sunlit surface of the Moon. This discovery indicates that water may be distributed across the lunar surface, and not limited to cold, shadowed place, NASA stated in its press release.
Water molecules were found in Clavius Crater, one of the largest craters visible from Earth, located in the Moon’s southern hemisphere.
NASA in its previous studies found indications of water but were unable to distinguish between water and its close chemical relative, hydroxyl, NASA stated.
ICYMI... using our @SOFIATelescope, we found water on the Moon's sunlit surface for the first time. Scientists think the water could be stored inside glass beadlike structures within the soil that can be smaller than the tip of a pencil. A recap: https://t.co/lCDDp7pbcl pic.twitter.com/d3CRe96LDm
— NASA (@NASA) October 26, 2020
"“We had indications that H2O – the familiar water we know – might be present on the sunlit side of the Moon. Now we know it is there. This discovery challenges our understanding of the lunar surface and raises intriguing questions about resources relevant for deep space exploration.” " - Paul Hertz, director of the Astrophysics Division, NASA
The press release also mentioned that the water discovery has raised new queries, and how it persists on the harsh, airless lunar surface.
“Prior to the SOFIA observations, we knew there was some kind of hydration,” said Casey Honniball of the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology.
Researchers believe the water might be trapped in glass beads, or another substance that protects it from the harsh lunar environment, Honniball told AFP.
"“If we find the water is abundant enough in certain locations we may be able to use it as a resource for human exploration. It could be used as drinking water, breathable oxygen, and rocket fuel.” " - Casey Honniball of the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology
SOFIA’s follow-up flights will look for water in additional sunlit locations and during different lunar phases to learn more about how the water is produced, stored, and moved across the Moon, NASA press released stated.
(With inputs from AFP)
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