NASA’s SOFIA Discovers Water on Sunlit Surface of Moon

For the first time in history, NASA has discovered water on the Moon. In a crater, Clavius Crater, there were 12 ounces of water found in a cubic meter of lunar dirt. The lunars H2O was discovered by NASA’s aircraft Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) on the sunlit side of the Moon. This is not a lot of water, but it does prove an amazing discovery that has not been verified before. Even the Sahara Desert has way more water than the surface of the Moon, to further illustrate the small amount of H2O found. This revelation has uncovered even more questions about space exploration. Finding water on the Moon baffles scientists. They can now try to understand how water is created and maintained on the Moon’s surface, with the environment that it is currently in.

In the past, NASA’s equipment has confirmed ice deep within craters on the dark side around the poles of the Moon. However, the surface is a different story, and the equipment could not distinguish if it were H2O or OH (hydroxyl). It could not be clearly identified as water or other forms of liquid. SOFIA was able to detect the water by attaching a telescope. This telescope has the ability to see 99 percent of the water vapor in Earth’s atmosphere. Both recognized a certain wavelength that only water molecules have, which leads to the discovery of water on the Moon.

It is still unknown if the water found in the carter is capable of human use, but NASA has made it a priority to figure this out. Unlike Earth, the Moon does not have a thick atmosphere. It should not be able to generate and contain water as it does. Scientists have theorized a few possibilities already, but the true explanation is still yet to be determined. A program called Artemis is conducting experiments to uncover this mystery in order to stay on track with their current plans to begin a sustainable human presence by the end of this current decade. SOFIA will continue to track the water to figure out the flow patterns, how it is stored, and how it is produced. Water will always be an essential resource and if the Moons H2O can be used, then it would create more possibilities for future deep space explorations.

Read the Full Article in Nature Astronomy: Molecular water detected on the sunlit Moon by SOFIA

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