Nasa 'definitively' confirms water on the sunlit surface of the Moon

FILE- A passenger jet passes in front of a waning moon after taking off from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix Arizona Feb. 11 2020

"Are we going to be disruptive to the water to the point that we just can't use it?" asked Paul Hertz, director of NASA's astrophysics division.

NASA has confirmed the presence of water on the moon's sunlit surface, a breakthrough that suggests the chemical compound that is vital to life on Earth could be distributed across more parts of the lunar surface than the ice that has previously been found in dark and cold areas. A team of scientists is now reporting the first clear detection of water molecules on the lunar surface.

To give some perspective, NASA said the Sahara desert has 100 times more water than what has been detected in lunar soil. The telescope-carrying aircraft was only pointing at the lunar surface as part of a test for deeper space exploration.

There may be more water on the moon than previously believed, and it could be used as a resource during upcoming missions - like NASA's return of humans to the lunar surface through the Artemis program.

This is definitely a landmark discovery, and one that will likely prove integral to the future of human deep space exploration.

A team of scientists discovered liquid water on the moon using NASA's flying telescope.

"As our closest planetary companion, understanding the origins of water on the moon can also shed light on the origins of Earth's water - still an open question in planetary science", Hayne added.

"And this would mean that without a lunar atmosphere the water could stay on the surface of the Moon".

Knowing that there is definitely water on the Moon, and that it could be in easily accessible areas, means that there is potential to set up a moon base, and mine water in space to make rocket fuel in the future. It was only recently when we knew about some kind of hydration including India's lunar mission Chandrayaan-1 that confirmed the presence of water ice in cold and shadowed places of Moon.

Is there enough water on the moon to drink?

When hit by a meteorite, that hydroxyl could become water. "Something creates water, something has to trap it there", Casey Honnipal, lead author of one study, said in a NASA report. A new study finds there are 40,000 square kilometres of shadows, mostly near the moon's poles, that could hide ice deposits. The scientists also say that water molecules are so spread out that they can not form even ice particles, not to mention liquid water.

The water molecules are in Clavius crater, a large crater in the moon's southern hemisphere.

The Soviet scientists went to great lengths to protect their samples from contamination once they returned to Earth - far more than the United States' Apollo astronauts - but nonetheless, the Soviet trio "were not willing to stake their reputations on an absolute statement that terrestrial contamination was completely avoided", though they noted they took "every possible precaution" to protect it, Crotts wrote in 2012. It was able to precisely observe wavelengths of water molecules with an infrared spectrometer, Honniball explained in the call.

Those previous studies, though, have focused on the polar regions, which have permanently shadowed regions that serve as "cold traps" where ice is stable for extended periods. Over the last quarter-century, scientists have built up evidence, primarily from spacecraft missions, that water ice exists on the moon. At both the North and South pole, the percentage of those areas rises sharply, while there's practically no such areas much below 70 degrees.

"If the water is trapped in glass beads, it might require too much energy to extract it", said Bleacher.



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