NASA Discovers Water on the Lunar Surface

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 places. Researchers also said that the discovery will benefit future exploration plans.

Dr. Casey Honniball, made the discovery using NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy airborne observatory. There may be far more water on the Moon than previously thought, according to two studies published on Monday raising the prospect that astronauts on future space missions could find refreshment — and maybe even fuel — on the lunar surface.

The Moon was believed to be bone dry until around a decade ago when a series of findings suggested that our nearest celestial neighbour has traces of water trapped in the surface. But with the recent findings, it is believed that there could be much more water than previously thought, including ice stored in permanently shadowed “cold traps” at lunar polar regions. Previous research has found indications of water by scanning the surface — but these were unable to distinguish between water (H2O) and hydroxyl, a molecule made up of one hydrogen atom and one oxygen atom. But a new study provides further chemical proof that the Moon holds molecular water, even in sunlit areas.

Researchers believe the water might be trapped in glass beads, or another substance that protects it from the harsh lunar environment. Further observations would help better understand where the water may have come from and how it is stored.