A study reveals that there is water on the moon, even outside of the black craters.
There is water on the sunlit surface of the moon, according to new observations from the flying telescope SOFIA. The first indication that water might exist on Earth’s cosmic twin outside of the permanently shadowed polar craters came from observations performed in 2020. These hypotheses are supported by the new observations, which also imply that there may be more water than previously believe.
SOFIA, is a NASA-led program that studies the universe in infrared radiation using a modified Boeing 747. The same observatory that discovered the finding in 2020 has now identified molecular water in the area of Moretus Crater, which is close to the moon’s south pole.
The scientists who made the observations said in a statement that the existence of water outside of the permanently shaded regions can provide insight into the origin of lunar water.
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Water was discovered in the vicinity of the adjacent Clavius Crater in 2020, but the evidence was deem “insufficient”. The latest study, according to the researchers, comprised more observations. In fact, the new measurements were so precise that they enabled the team to produce a map of the distribution of water in the Moretus Crater area that illustrates how the abundance varies with latitude and temperature: the more water there is, the closer to the pole it is, and the colder the temperature.
The study’s principal investigator, Casey Honniball, a postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said in a statement that “water on the moon is exciting because it allows us to study the processes that occur not only on the moon but also on other airless bodies.” “For human exploration, [water] is a resource of the utmost importance. You can learn how to collect water from the moon’s surface and use it to make breathing oxygen or rocket fuel for a more sustainable presence if you can locate [sufficiently] significant concentrations of water there and learn how it is being kept and what shape it is in. “
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In comparison to ground-based telescopes, SOFIA, which flies above 99% of the water vapor in the Earth’s atmosphere. May it better able to distinguish between water and hydroxyl (OH) molecules. On the moon, hydroxyl is more prevalent because it is directly form via interactions between the solar wind and the lunar soil. Hydroxyl, unlike water, contains just one hydrogen atom as opposed to the two found in water.
On the lunar surface, this hydrogen reacts with oxygen to produce hydroxyl. According to the researchers, this hydroxyl turns into water when micrometeorite impacts heat up the moon’s surface.
When NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) launches on its mission in 2024. Scientists will be able to determine in great detail how much water there truly is around the moon’s south pole.
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