World News – US – Water on the moon is more common than previously thought, studies show


For the very first time, scientists have identified water on the moon’s sunny surface They have also discovered that water is more common on the moon than previously thought, with ice packs hiding in dark regions of « eternal darkness, » some as small as a dime, new studies reveal

Scientists have been finding signs of water on the moon since 2009, and in 2018 confirmed the presence of water ice on the lunar surface Now, researchers in two new studies have detected water in the ‘one of the largest crater formations on a sunny surface on the moon and also discovered that the lunar surface could harbor many patches of secret ice in « cold traps », permanently shaded patch regions on the moon

« If you can imagine standing on the moon’s surface near one of its poles, you would see shadows everywhere, » study author Paul Hayne, assistant professor at the Atmospheric and Space Physics Laboratory at the University of Colorado, Boulder, said in a statement « A lot of these little shadows could be full of ice »

In one study, researchers led by Casey Honniball, a NASA postdoctoral researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, studied water on the moon using data from the SOFIA Airborne Telescope (l NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy With these observations, scientists, for the first time in history, have detected water on a sunny lunar surface

Previous work identifying water on the moon was based on a spectral signature, the distinct « bar code » that scientists use to identify materials, which is reflected as a function of wavelength. do not distinguish between water and hydroxyl (the OH molecule) bound to minerals on the lunar surface

Previous observations have spotted a chemical signature that could point to water or hydroxyl but, thanks to these new observations, researchers were able to spot the unique chemical signature of water Scientists found water near the Clavius ​​crater, one of the largest crater formations on the Moon, and also in a low latitude part of Mare Serenitatis

Researchers have discovered that this water exists between 100 and 400 parts per million Scientists suggest that this water is probably « sandwiched » between grains on the lunar surface, which protects it from the environment

In the other study, led by Hayne, the researchers used data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft orbiting the moon to study the distribution of cold traps, where water might not only exist transient, but permanent

Scientists have found a wide variety of cold traps, including « micro cold traps » as small as 04 inches (1 centimeter) in diameter, and evidence that there could be hundreds or even thousands of times more of these small « micro » cold traps than the larger ones They also found these permanent shadows at both poles

In fact, Hayne’s team discovered that a whopping 15,000 square miles (40,000 square kilometers) of the lunar surface could potentially hold water This is more than double the area reserved for scientists previously for water ice on the moon

The interesting nature of these « cold traps » is that they are not just cold, shaded areas where water is more likely to collect They are so cold that water or ice would be there literally trapped for an incredible time

« The temperatures are so low in the cold traps that the ice would behave like a boulder, » Hayne said in the same release « If water gets in it, it doesn’t go anywhere for a billion years »

Although Hayne and his team have stated that they actually need to find this ice with rovers or crewed missions to fully verify its existence, this new discovery could prove to be monumental in humanity’s plans to not only send astronauts back to the moon (NASA hopes to do so) one by 2024 with its Artemis program), but also to create long-term human encampments on the lunar surface as a proving ground and starting point towards March

« If we’re right, water will be more accessible for drinking water, for rocket fuel, whatever water NASA needs, » Hayne said in the same statement. “The astronauts might not need to go into those deep, dark shadows… They could wander around and find a [cold trap] three feet wide that could be just as likely to harbor ice cream »

Honniball’s work was published today (Oct 26) in the journal Nature Astronomy Hayne’s work was also published today in the same journal

Email Chelsea Gohd at cgohd @ spacecom or follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook

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Water on the moon

World news – US – Water on the moon is more common than previously thought, studies show


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