NASA scientists have now concluded that more water exists on the moon than previously believed. Using a satellite orbiting the moon, NASA has confirmed that there is water on both the sunlit and shadowed parts of the moon.
This information may help advance future lunar missions. “If we’re right, water is going to be more accessible for drinking water, for rocket fuel, everything that NASA needs water for” said scientist Paul Hayne, who led the study.
The study was conducted using an aircraft called SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy), which carries a 2.7 meter telescope.
Using the SOFIA telescope, NASA scientists studied the moon using a particular wavelength and observed signs of water. This was the first time scientists confirmed that water exists on the moon’s sunlit surface, towards the southern part of the moon. NASA believes that the water is in the form of small beads of glass or between grains on the moon’s surface, which helps protect the water from the moon’s harsh environment.
In another study, researchers used a spacecraft called the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to look for frozen water in the permanently shadowed parts of the moon which were likely unexposed to the sun for billions of years. NASA scientists believe that frozen water may be hidden in penny-sized pieces of ice within these shadowed areas. This new study concluded that the area of the moon where ice might hide is larger than previously thought.
Even though water has been detected, NASA will not be able to evaluate how easy that water is to access until rovers or humans are sent to the lunar surface. NASA is anticipating future missions through its Artemis program which plans to send astronauts to the south lunar pole by 2024 for further exploration.
[Sources: Madison.com; NASA; Nature Astronomy]
About the Author:
Makya Rodrigez is a freshman at Madison West High school. He has been working at Simpson Street Free Press since he was in eighth grade. He is interested in writing articles about space science and local issues in Madison. In his free time, Makya enjoys going on walks and playing ultimate frisbee.