NASA spotted hopping liquid water on Moon’s surface

12 Mars, 2019, 13:38 | Auteur: Therese Cote

Up until the last decade, scientists thought the Moon was arid, with any water existing mainly as pockets of ice in permanently shaded craters near the poles. That's the message from researchers using data from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to detect water molecules and the behavior of the moisture over the course of a lunar day.

NASA is going to the Moon and on to Mars, in a measured, sustainable way.

Water molecules remain tightly bound to the regolith until surface temperatures peak near lunar noon. The amount and locations vary based on the time of day. This water is more common at higher latitudes and tends to hop around as the surface heats up.

More recently, scientists have identified surface water in sparse populations of molecules bound to the lunar soil, or regolith.

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'This is an important new result about lunar water, a hot topic as our nation's space program returns to a focus on lunar exploration, ' said Dr. Kurt Retherford, the principal investigator of the LAMP instrument from Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas.

Scientists explained how Lyman Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) measurements of the layer of molecules temporarily stuck to the surface helped determine the moon's lunar hydration changes.

In Bridenstine's published statement today, he summarizes: "Beginning with a series of small commercial delivery missions to the Moon as early as this year, we will use new landers, robots and eventually humans by 2028 to conduct science across the entire lunar surface". Now, the LRO has revealed that the water present on the Moon's surface actually moves around during lunar daytime. It's data like this that could be particularly useful when planning future missions and potentially even permanent settlements on the Moon. With that in mind, when the Moon passes behind the Earth and is shielded from the solar wind, the "water spigot" should essentially turn off.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said even though there had been a budget cut, he was confident a mission to both the Moon and Mars are possible.

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