As I mentioned in previous comments, the big news from NASA were water on the Moon: exactly water more spread than thought 😉
According to today’s announcement, Astronomers discovered water molecules in the soil of the lunar crater Clavius at the south hemisphere of the Moon.
The team used the flying observatory SOFIA and the paper giving the details was published in Nature Astronomy.
Previous probes (Cassini, Deep Impact and Chandrayan-1) used infrared spectroscopy and found hydrated compounds on the visible side of the Moon.
However, for a long time it was not clear if the finding was water (H20) or hydroxyl (OH)
Now a group of astronomers led by Casey Honniball from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center decided to investigate this issue.
For this purpose, they used SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy), which conducted observations at a wavelength of six micrometers beyond the visible side of the Moon in August 2018.
The targets for the observatory were the Clavius Crater, located in the high southern latitudes, and the Sea of Clarity, located closer to the equator of the Moon.
An analysis of the data obtained by the telescope showed that the Clavius crater and in its vicinity had water molecules in an amount of 100 to 400 micrograms per gram of soil.
Scientists emphasize that they do not know of any other substance which would have similar spectral characteristics at a wavelength of six micrometers.
It is assumed that water molecules are located inside impact glass particles or in voids between regolith grains, which allows them to persist.
According to the researchers, the low water content in the Sea of Clarity can be explained by the fall of small meteorites.
Further observations should determine the fluctuations in the content of water molecules in the soil during the day and more accurately understand their distribution over the satellite surface.
Let's not forget that water will be an extremely useful resource not only for drinking but also to make fuel. For this reason NASA is already placing budget for companies that will try the necessary techonology (check sources).
- Nature Astronomy: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-020-01222-x
- YouTube: (see above)