NASA spacecraft finds water on Moon's sunlit surface

28 Octobre, 2020, 09:35 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • NASA discovers water on the moon’s surface – Category

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the U.S. recently made a bombshell announcement on October 26, when it told the world that the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has confirmed, for the first time, water on the sunlit surface of the Moon.

He said, "We had indications that H2-the familiar water we know- might be present on the sunlit side of the Moon".

While previous observations have indicated millions of tons of ice in the permanently shadowed craters of the moon's poles, a pair of studies in the journal Nature Astronomy take the availability of lunar surface water to a new level.

"Prior to the SOFIA observations, we knew there was some kind of hydration".

A new study led by NASA scientists has discovered water present on the moon's surface in places previously thought to be impossible, raising new potential for harvesting the valuable resource on manned lunar missions later this decade. "Previous observations of the Moon's surface detected some form of hydrogen, but were unable to distinguish between water and its close chemical relative, hydroxyl (OH)".

As a comparison, the researchers said the Sahara desert has 100 times the amount of water than what SOFIA detected in the lunar soil.

One possibility they said could be from micrometeorites raining down on the lunar surface, carrying small amounts of water, which may deposit the water on the lunar surface upon impact.

Scientists believe all this water on the moon came from comets, asteroids, interplanetary dust, the solar wind or even lunar volcanic eruptions. If all these zones, dubbed "micro cold traps", are filled with ice and frost, they could amount to trillions of pounds of water, Hayne tells National Geographic. But the tool they were using couldn't detect the difference between water and hydroxyl, a molecule that consists of one hydrogen atom and one oxygen atom.

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Another possibility is that the water could be hidden between grains of lunar soil and sheltered from the sunlight -potentially making it a bit more accessible than water trapped in beadlike structures, they noted in a statement.

The telescope looked at the moon's Clavius Crater, which is one of the most visible moon craters from Earth, and spotted water molecules. The observations that became the basis for the significant discovery were originally just a test, she said, checking out the moon's surface while flying over Nevada en route back to California in 2018.

How it gets there and what keeps it there remain open questions, researchers said. Most of these molecules are likely stored in the voids between moon dust and other particles or locked inside glassy volcanic material.

In the same issue of Nature Astronomy, scientists published an article using theoretical models and data from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, pointing out that water can be trapped in small shadows, where temperatures are below zero, on more of the Moon than the expected. Jacob Bleacher, NASA's chief exploration scientist, said the discovery could have huge implications, as water is heavy and expensive to launch from Earth and will eventually run out.

Using its Faint Object infraRed CAmera for the SOFIA Telescope (FORCAST), SOFIA was able to pick up the specific wavelength unique to water molecules, at 6.1 microns, and discovered a relatively surprising concentration in sunny Clavius Crater.

SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center.

A team of researchers led by Paul Hayne, a planetary scientist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, examined high-resolution images of the moon's surface and found that these icy patches cover an estimated 15,400 square miles, which is roughly the size of Maryland and DE combined. We hope that we have succeeded by giving you the full details and information.

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