NASA discovers water on Moon, could establish a lunar base

Several days ago, NASA dropped hints of a discovery. NASA has found the presence of water on the moon’s surface. The discovery has given hope to establish a lunar base.

Nature and Astronomy Journal published the findings. As per the findings, scientists believe there is a presence of water. Most importantly, water is present on the sunlit side of the moon.

Casey Honniball is a postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. She is one of the authors of this groundbreaking research. In a virtual conference, she said that the amount of water is equivalent to a 12-ounce bottle of water.

The importance

The research can help broaden the list of places where humans want to build a base. There are long term plans for building permanent habitation on the lunar surface. The water found on the lunar base can be a pillar towards a lunar economy. Rocket fuels can be cheaper after that. If tapped in the future, lunar explorers could turn water into hydrogen and oxygen. As a result, they could refuel on the moon itself. This would reduce the cost of space travel soon.

“We were going to go to the Moon anyway. But this gives us more options and makes it an even more exciting place to go,” said Dr. Sargeant.

The research

An airborne infrared telescope called Sofia initially identified the region. Then a modified Boeing 747 was flown much above the Earth’s atmosphere. As a result, it gave an unobstructed view of the Solar System. The scientists used the infrared telescope to pick up the “signature” pigments of the water molecules.

The researchers think it is stored in lunar glass bubbles or between grains on the surface that protect it from the harsh environment. Scientists looked for permanently shadowed areas. These are called cold traps. Water permanently remains here. They found these cold traps at both poles and concluded that “approximately 40,000 kilometers squared of the lunar surface has the capacity to trap water.”

Previous signs of water

There were previous signs of the presence of water on the lunar surface. But those were mostly on the darker side of the moon. The water this time is on the lighter side of the moon. Hence, there are more potential water sources on the moon. More research is required for further tapping.

“It gives us more options for potential water sources on the Moon,” said Hannah Sargeant, a planetary scientist from the Open University in Milton Keynes, told BBC News.

Image courtesy of Dima Zel/Shutterstock

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