NASA discovers water on sunlit surface of MoonChristian Fernsby ▼ | October 26, 2020
NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has confirmed, for the first time, water on the sunlit surface of the Moon.
SOFIA has detected water molecules (H2O) in Clavius Crater, one of the largest craters visible from Earth, located in the Moon’s southern hemisphere.
Previous observations of the Moon’s surface detected some form of hydrogen, but were unable to distinguish between water and its close chemical relative, hydroxyl (OH).
Data from this location reveal water in concentrations of 100 to 412 parts per million trapped in a cubic meter of soil spread across the lunar surface.
The results are published in the latest issue of Nature Astronomy.
As a comparison, the Sahara desert has 100 times the amount of water than what SOFIA detected in the lunar soil.
Despite the small amounts, the discovery raises new questions about how water is created and how it persists on the harsh, airless lunar surface. ■