World News – UA – Water spotted hiding in broad daylight on the Moon


There really is water on the Moon – and it could be much more prevalent than previously thought

The results of two separate studies, published today in the journal Nature Astronomy, are a major boost for plans to return humans to the moon

In the first study, a team of scientists led by Casey Honniball of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, discovered the signature of water trapped in glass or between grains of sand on the moon’s surface

« For the first time, we have unambiguously detected molecular water on the sunlit Moon, » said Dr Honniball

Scientists have long suspected that large amounts of frozen water are lurking in deep polar craters that never see the sun

But Dr Honniball and his colleagues have detected water molecules in a pockmarked, sunny region near the moon’s south pole

« It was previously believed that water could not survive on the sunny moon, » she said

« Our detection shows that water is perhaps more widespread on the surface of the Moon than previously thought and that it is not limited only to the poles »

The two new articles are the culmination of a decade of increasingly tantalizing clues about water on the moon

Spacecraft such as NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter have detected hydrogen – one of the molecular components of water – in permanently shaded areas at the north and south poles

The case escalated when data from India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft revealed tiny patches of ice exposed in some of those same dark craters

« Water ice at the poles is a different detection than the water we detect in glass on the sunny moon, » she explained

This is something that has been talked about in the past.In the sunny high latitude areas of the Moon, scientists have detected the presence of hydrogen bound to oxygen – but it was impossible to say if it were molecular water (H2O) or hydroxyl groups (OH), which are common in minerals

To find out, Dr Honniball and his colleagues booked a flight on NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) in 2018

SOFIA is an inflated 747 aircraft with a telescope inside that can pick up infrared light above clouds; in this case, he used a camera that focuses on wavelengths of 5 to 8 microns

« This is unique to molecular water because it requires two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen », explained Dr Honniball

In fact, water appears to be present in the Clavius ​​Crater – a huge basin in the rugged highlands of high latitudes – in abundance of around 100 to 400 parts per million

Craig O’Neill, a planetary scientist at Macquarie University, said the detection of the water signature was a great result

« We know it’s not just a little bit of water tied to another mineral, it’s actually a water molecule on its own, » he said

« This means that there is a lot of water associated with places on the Moon where you wouldn’t necessarily expect it »

Dr Honniball said detecting water in a sunny area indicated that there were processes on the moon that created and stored water

She and her colleagues suggested that water could have been trapped in molten rocks, transformed into crystals by the impact of micrometeorites hitting the surface of the Moon

The micrometeorites either brought water with them or the shock of the collision converted the existing hydrogen and oxygen in the minerals into water when the rocks melted

Join astronomer Fred Watson for a guided tour of the Apollo sites, the stunning lava plains and craters that dot our heavenly neighbor

Dr O’Neill said it is very common for water bubbles to be trapped in rocks turned into glass by extreme heat and pressure

Collecting glass bead samples could help answer long-standing questions about how the Moon – and Earth – got their water

« We have this whole record of micrometeorite bombing through time locked in there, waiting for us to get to it, » he said

But, he added, water stored in glass marbles is not as easily accessible to people as water stored in the form of ice

Fortunately, the second new study indicates that areas where water could be trapped in the form of ice around the poles are much more abundant and accessible than previously thought

« What they have shown in this article is that once you get past 80 degrees north or south, towards the poles, there is a huge potential reservoir of ice, » said the Dr O’Neill

A team led by Paul Hayne of the University of Colorado modeled the surface of the moon and identified billions of tiny « cold traps »: icy shadows where ice could be stable for billions of years

Their research, based on data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, suggests that approximately 40,000 square kilometers from the lunar surface to the poles have the capacity to trap water

« We find that there are tens of billions of cold traps of about one centimeter on the moon, » said Dr Hayne

Because they are so ubiquitous, these little cold traps could be much easier to access than large craters that don’t see daylight and can’t be accessed with landers or solar-powered rovers

/ p>

« An astronaut or a robotic robot or a lander could access those smaller shadows and any ice deposits inside, simply by reaching – instead of venturing into the deep, dark shadows of the larger ones. craters, « said Dr Hayne

« This represents an opportunity to rethink the technologies needed to extract and use lunar water for scientific and exploration purposes »

The United States recently announced its intention to place humans on the Moon in 2024 and have a permanent presence at the South Pole by 2028

If present, it could be used to provide drinking water, as well as to produce rocket fuel to support space exploration

Andrew Dempster, director of space engineering at the University of New South Wales, has long argued that Australia should play a role in space mining

He said the findings of the two papers confirm the moon hypotheses and reduce uncertainty for the mining industry

« We are now much more certain that what we can search for is real, » said Professor Dempster

« If [water ice] is more prevalent, then maybe we don’t have to focus on those big craters, maybe we can look at these little things that are easier to manage « 

This service may include material from Agence France-Presse (AFP), APTN, Reuters, AAP, CNN and the BBC World Service which is copyrighted and may not be reproduced

AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time, which is 10 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)

Moon, NASA, lunar water, Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, surface

News from the world – AU – Spotted water hiding in broad daylight on the Moon


Donnez votre avis et abonnez-vous pour plus d’infos


Vidéo du jour: