Water on the Moon :
The Moon has been a beacon of curiosity for ages, powering the ideas of exploring its surface and beyond. Well, here’s another interesting fact about the age-old celebrity of the sky.
The United States space agency – NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), for the 1st time, has confirmed the presence of water on the Moon, exclusively on its sunlit surface that makes the scientists rethink what was previously thought.
The molecules of water on the moon’s surface were detected in Calvius Crater in the southern lunar hemisphere, one of the largest craters observed from Earth.
Even though some form of hydrogen was detected on the lunar surface in previous observations, it was still murky to accurately differentiate whether it was water molecules or other hydroxyl chemicals on the sunlit side of the moon.
According to the report published in Nature astronomy, it was found that the concentration of water was about 100 to 410 parts per million, that is, in every cubic meter of the lunar soil is less than half a liter of water.
In compassion, the desert on Earth has a lot more amount of water than the detected quantity of water molecules on the moon.
“This discovery challenges our understanding of the lunar surface and raises intriguing questions about resources relevant for deep space exploration,” Paul Hertz, director of the Astrophysics Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA said in a report.
Also check: Alien Life on Mars, Is This Really True?
Water on the moon to help future missions?
The presence of the key ingredient of life on the lunar surface has opened up greater possibilities for space exploration. If the water is present at the desired proportion, the future astronomers or the lunar colonies may have access to the drinking water on the lunar surface for a sustained human presence.
NASA is preparing to send a man and the first woman to the moon by 2024 under its most ambitious Artemis Program and maintain a sustainable human presence within the end of the decade.
How did SOFIA find the presence of water on the moon?
The Stratosphere Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, also known as the ‘flying observatory’ is a specially modified Boeing 747SP fitted with a 2.7 meter (106-inch) reflecting telescope.
It flew at 45,000 feet in the Stratosphere, which is 99% out of earth’s infrared-blocking atmosphere for much disturbance-free study of the moon and beyond.
Water on the moon’s sunlit surface was identified through a partnership between NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR).
This flying observatory allows scientists to study celestial bodies from almost any part of the world. With Faint Object infraRed CAmera (FORECAST), SOFIA identified a high concentration of 6.1 microns- a wavelength that is unique to the water molecules, in the Clavius Crater.
But the researchers are still unsure of how the water molecules might have formed. There are several factors that cannot be ruled out for the presence of water on the moon.
One suggests that micrometeorites showering down on the moon’s surface might have brought some quantity of water on the moon on their impacts.
The other suggests that the hydrogen from the solar winds might have reacted with oxygen-bearing minerals in the lunar soil giving rise to a hydroxyl molecule. The radiation might have converted the hydroxyl into water.
Water on the moon’s dark side was found frozen in the craters. On the sunlit side, the water molecules might be shielded by the grains of soil particles from the harsh radiations.
“If we can use the resources at the Moon, then we can carry less water and more equipment to help enable new scientific discoveries,” said Jacob Bleacher, Chief Exploration Scientist for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.