NASA scientists first found water on the sunny side of the moon. Its concentration is about twice as high as scientists previously thought.
Scientists explained that astronomers have long known about water in the form of ice on the lunar surface, but so far it has only been found in deep and shady craters at the poles of a celestial body. However, a recent flight by the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) confirmed the existence of new water deposits – there were twice as many of them than the researchers assumed.
“This is the first time we can confirm the presence of water on the sun’s side of the moon with data from the SOFIA telescope,” agency head Jim Bridenstine said on Twitter. – We don’t know yet if we can use it as a resource. Finding water on the Moon is key to our research plans for the Artemis program.”
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
In previous studies, scientists have found hydrogen on the lunar surface. However, the scientists, due to the limitations of the method, were unable to determine if this is hydrogen present in water or hydroxyl, which is close to it in chemical composition. SOFIA research confirmed the presence of water in the Clavius Crater. What’s more, the device found it in concentrations ranging from 100 to 412 ppm – roughly 0.35 liters per square meter of lunar soil. This is about 100 times less than in the Sahara Desert.
Scientists have calculated that in total, the moon may be about 38 thousand square kilometers. permanently shaded areas of various shapes and sizes that store ice. Previously, the estimates were half that. “In cold traps, the temperature is so low that if water gets into them, then it will not go anywhere for billions of years,” the agency noted.
NASA researchers have already put forward several theories as to how this water originated. She could get to the moon due to micrometeorites that regularly fall on the surface of a celestial body. The second version is the origin on the lunar surface itself, where hydrogen reacts with oxygen-containing minerals in the lunar regolith, creating hydroxyl. Then, after being treated with solar radiation, it turns into water.