It was just a suspicion. But there is no longer any doubt. NASA scientists discovered water on the moon’s surface. And in more than enough quantity to meet the needs of the future human colonies that are being projected. The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has determined this.
Water, lots of water
The article is published in “Nature Astronomy”. It describes the existence of large areas around the two poles of the moon in which water could be locked in in a stable manner. It could easily be retrieved by future astronauts. The old measurements were inconclusive. This time yes: it is a unique signature from H20.
In the vicinity of the South Pole, water is found in concentrations of 100 to 400 ppm. Presumably stored in glass or scattered among grains of dust and regoliths on the moon’s surface.
The distribution of areas in permanent shadow on the moon that sunlight never reaches has been studied in detail. Known as “cold traps”, water could be caught and remain unchanged in these places. According to the study, these dark corners have been protected from the sun’s rays for thousands or even millions of years. They could be much more common than previously thought.
Large ice deposits had been discovered in some of the lunar craters. Shackleton Crater is 20 km in diameter and several km in depth. And it is permanently in shadow (and at 150 degrees below zero) due to the position of the moon in relation to the sun. It is therefore a huge “cold trap” with a large amount of ice. This study tried to find out whether there are other types of more accessible “traps” on the moon.
And they discovered that the smallest are hundreds or even thousands of times more numerous than the large. They can be found at both poles. Approximately 40,000 square kilometers of the moon’s surface can trap and hold back water in the form of ice.
“Astronauts may not need to go to craters,” says Paul Hayne of the University of Colorado. You could go and find a shadow that is just as likely to harbor ice. The water is much easier to drink or whatever is needed.
Since they discovered water on the lunar surface, there are several processes that can be used to produce water efficiently. There are places where this water can be stored in the form of ice deposits. It is not impossible to believe that in the not too distant future we will have a glass of water … from the moon.