There’s Water on the Moon?

There's Water on the Moon?

The news of water found in space is always exciting!! Especially when water is found on our moon!! This essential molecule is not only important to human survival, but it could even mean launching new exploration programs and monetization in the close future!! 

Latest research reported to Nature Astronomy, suggests that, “Widespread hydration was detected on the lunar surface through observations at … 3 µm by three independent spacecraft[s]”. The exact molecules laying on the moon’s surface are uncertain, however research from NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy airborne telescope, or SOFIA for short, suggests a strong possibility of  molecular water (H2O) to be found on the lunar surface of the moon. 

This specialized Boeing 747SP aircraft observes many celestial occurrences through an infrared lens. Some of SOFIA’s investigative duties include, nebulas, galaxies, black holes, but most importantly the Identification of complex molecules in space. These complex molecules include water. Using the Faint Object infraRed CAmera for the SOFIA Telescope (FORCAST) SOFIA indicated signatures of molecular water on Earth’s moon’s surface in August 2018.

The issue in the initial search for water arises when clarifying the differences between molecular water (H2O) or other hydroxyl (OH) compounds under a 3 µm band. However, the researchers have found a method proven to differentiate the two similar molecules: H20’s specific  “vibration of [molecules] … produces a spectral signature at 6 µm that is not shared by other hydroxyl compounds” (Honniball et al, 1)

Paul Hertz, director of the astrophysics division at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, hints at the implementation of lunar water sources in future projects, saying in a recent press release that “we had indications that H2O … might be present on the sunlit side of the moon. Now we know it is there. This discovery challenges our understanding of the lunar surface and raises intriguing questions about resources relevant for deep space exploration.” These questions can be solved by NASA’s Artemis program. The crew’s mission is to gather as much intel on the existence of water on the Moon. Through this upcoming program NASA plans to pilot five robotic flights to the Moon have already been booked through 2023, and experimentation for future commercial lunar deliveries as part of the Artemis program. Not to mention the first woman and next man to the moon by 2024. The presence of water on the surface indicates a possibility for sustainable human presence on the lunar surface there by 2030. It will be truly interesting to see unfold and watch in real time, what this all means for humanity and future space exploration.