NASA scientists have found water on the moon than previously thought a crucial discovery that could help greatly fuel deep-space exploration, the agency revealed Monday.
???? ICYMI... using our @SOFIATelescope, we found water on the Moon's sunlit surface for the first time. Scientists think the water could be stored inside glass beadlike structures within the soil that can be smaller than the tip of a pencil. A recap: https://t.co/lCDDp7pbcl pic.twitter.com/d3CRe96LDm— NASA (@NASA) October 26, 2020
A new pair of studies reveals that the resource isn’t limited to large shadowy craters. The research suggests that water could be distributed right across the lunar surface, not just trapped in the cold, shadowed parts of the Moon.
The discovery was made in the Clavius Crater located in the Moon’s southern hemisphere. Whereas previous investigations were inconclusive, as the molecules detected could have been either those of water or its close relative hydroxyl, the new results leave little room for doubt.
As for water storage, researchers again have two hypotheses. One involves the water being trapped in tiny beadlike structures in the soil – formed via high heat generated during micrometeorite impacts – while the other suggests that it could be hidden between grains of lunar soil and sheltered from sunlight.
Water is very heavy and to have launch it into space would difficult and expensive. If there is water on the moon - in whatever form - then we have a potential reservoir that could be used for drinking or to make into hydrogen and oxygen which could be used as rocket propellant.
Scientist had previously found evidence of hydration on the lunar surface. But it was unclear whether that hydrogen was in the form of hydroxyl – the chemical that makes up drain cleaners – or in the form of H2O, or water.
Nasa hopes to head to the Moon in 2024, taking the first person in more than 50 years and the first woman ever to step foot on the lunar surface. By the end of the decade, it wants to have established a “sustainable human presence” on the Moon.