Scientists Just Confirmed Existence Of Water On Moon

It’s official. There’s water on the Moon.

NASA’s intriguing announcement last week that it would reveal an “exciting discovery on the moon” led to much speculation as to what this great discovery could be. Now we can all share the excitement of the space agency: The Moon appears to have a lot of water, which could make future exploration of our natural satellite much easier.

With no significant atmosphere insulating it from the sun’s rays, it had been assumed that the moon’s surface was dry.

Then in 2009, imaging spectrometers aboard India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft recorded coherent signatures with water in light reflecting off the moon’s surface. Even so, technical limitations meant that it was impossible to know if this really was H2O (water) or hydroxyl (consisting of an oxygen atom and a hydrogen atom) molecules in the minerals. .

Two studies published today in Nature Astronomy reveal the important new watery findings. The first paper, led by Dr Casey Honniball of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre, reports the unequivocal discovery of water on the surface of the Moon. The second study, led by Dr Paul Hayne from the University of Colorado, Boulder, examines how the Moon captures and stores this water in “cold traps”. 

“Water is central to human life but is expensive to launch into space,” says Honniball. “Finding water on the moon may mean we can utilise the water that is there versus bringing the water with us.”

“We’re seeing billions and billions of these cold traps at scales that haven’t been seen before,” says Hayne. “That presents an opportunity to extract ice much more readily. We think this is revolutionary in terms of what will be possible for astronauts on the moon.”

“The temperatures are so low in cold traps that ice would behave like a rock,” Hayne said in the same statement. “If water gets in there, it’s not going anywhere for a billion years.”

Both papers have been published in Nature Astronomy. They can be found here and here.

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