NASA has confirmed the presence of water on the surface of the Moon, more precisely water molecules (H, hydrogen and O, oxygen).
The researchers detected water molecules in the Clavius crater in the southern hemisphere of the Moon. The large crater is visible from the Earth.
This discovery suggests that water could be distributed over more parts of the Moon’s surface than the ice that was previously found in the dark, cold areas.
Water on the Moon: how was it found?
The discovery was made thanks to SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy), a modified Boeing 747.
SOFIA is the world’s largest aircraft observatory, equipped with a 2.5-metre diameter infrared telescope; it can take its large telescope high into the Earth’s atmosphere at altitudes of up to 45,000 feet (14,000 metres).
These heights allow researchers to scrutinize objects in space with almost no visual disturbance from water vapor.
The infrared telescope is necessary because there is no water in liquid form on the Moon.
Where is the water on the Moon.
Water was found on the surface of the Moon illuminated by the sun.
More precisely in the crater of Clavius, a large crater in the southern hemisphere of the Moon.
Previous observations of the Moon’s surface have detected some form of hydrogen, but have not been able to distinguish between water and its close chemical relative, hydroxyl (OH).
This infrared camera, on the other hand, is able to distinguish between the specific wavelength of water of 6.1 microns and that of its close relative chemical hydroxyl, or OH.
The data reveal water in concentrations between 100 and 412 parts per million – more or less equivalent to a 12-ounce bottle of water – trapped in a cubic metre of soil scattered over the lunar surface.
The results were published in the latest issue of Nature Astronomy.
“These are not pools of water, but water molecules so scattered that they do not form ice or liquid water,” said Casey Honniball.
Experts will now try to understand exactly how water was formed and why it persists.
“Without a dense atmosphere, water on the sunlit lunar surface should be lost in space,” said Honniball. “Yet somehow we are seeing it.
Something is producing the water, and something must have trapped it there” for example, it could have been transported to the surface by micrometeorites that impacted the moon.