NASA orbiter spots water molecules on Moon

  • NASA orbiter spots water molecules on Moon

NASA orbiter spots water molecules on Moon

One of its most remembered creations is a technology that detects heartbeats and was used to save lives during a 7.8 magnitude natural disaster that struck Nepal in 2015. However, recent studies showed that surface water was present in sparse populations of molecules bound to the lunar soil.

John Keller, LRO deputy project scientist from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland said, "The study is an important step in advancing the water story on the Moon and is a result of years of accumulated data from the LRO mission".

The research has paid off however as this new data is now the only set of measurements providing daytime coverage of the Moon's hydration cycle and it is the first time that the UV absorption signature of H2O has been used to detect water on a rocky, airless body. But with this new discovery, it has become pretty clear that small amounts of water are still there in the dusty lunar surface or regolith.

This Dec. 29, 1968, photo made available by NASA shows craters on the moon.

The lunar discovery has found water molecules are tightly bonded to the Moon's surface until around the time when temperatures peak at noon. This discovery suggested that water builds up over time rather than "raining" down directly from the solar wind. However, when the temperature drops again, the water molecules return to the surface.

These results are now making history in the field of science and aeronautics.

"These results aid in understanding the lunar water cycle and will ultimately help us learn about accessibility of water that can be used by humans in future missions to the Moon", said lead author Amanda Hendrix. This research revealed the amount of energy needed to remove water molecules from lunar materials, helping scientists understand how water is bound to surface materials.

Still, more information about water moving around the Moon is exciting stuff. However, when the Moon moves behind Earth it is protected from the solar winds, the water should disappear.

Water on other planetary bodies could be a valuable resource not just for human explorers to drink, but also to serve as fuel for future robotic exploration, since water can be split to form rocket fuel, saving missions from having to carry that fuel from Earth. Fuels meant to launch rockets, and other spacecraft are expensive.

NASA just discovered that there's evidence of water molecules which are reportedly bouncing around the lunar orb's dayside.

According to Dr Kurt Retherford, a scientist working on the project, the findings are important given the country's (the US) renewed focus on lunar exploration.