Washington: Scientists have for the first time confirmed the presence of water on the sunlit surface of Moon.The discovery indicates that water molecules may be distributed across the lunar surface, and not limited to the cold, shadowed places as previously thought, news agency PTI reported.
Using NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), the researchers, including those from the University of Hawaii in the US, detected water molecules (H2O) in Clavius Crater — one of the largest craters located in the Moon’s southern hemisphere.
While earlier studies of the Moon’s surface, including those conducted during the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Chandrayaan-1 mission, detected some form of hydrogen, the NASA scientists said these were unable to distinguish between water and its close chemical relative, hydroxyl (OH).
Data from the current study, published in the journal Nature Astronomy, revealed that the Clavius Crater region has water in concentrations of 100 to 412 parts per million trapped in a cubic meter of soil spread across the lunar surface.
As a comparison, the researchers said the Sahara desert has 100 times the amount of water than what SOFIA detected in the lunar soil.
“Prior to the SOFIA observations, we knew there was some kind of hydration. But we didn’t know how much, if any, was actually water molecules — like we drink every day — or something more like drain cleaner,” said Casey Honniball, the lead author of the study from the University of Hawaii.