Main image via Scientific American
The US’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has confirmed it detected the presence of water on the moon's sunlit surface.
This breakthrough is largely correlated to the odds of establishing a long-term human presence there.
NASA said it’s not sure if this water can be used as a resource as of yet, but added that learning more about it is crucial for future plans to explore the moon.
The discovery was made through the space agency's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA - a modified Boeing 747 that can take its large telescope high into Earth's atmosphere, at altitudes up to 45,000 feet.
Lead author of a study on the discovery, Casey Honniball explained that these aren’t puddles of water, but instead water molecules that are so spread apart that they do not form ice or liquid water!
In recent years, researchers had been able to document only water ice at the moon's poles and other darker and colder areas.
Experts will now try to figure out exactly how this water on the moon’s sunny side came to form and why it persists.
“Without a thick atmosphere, water on the sunlit lunar surface should just be lost to space. Yet somehow we're seeing it. Something is generating the water, and something must be trapping it there,” said Honniball.
The only way to find out what this means for mankind is to go to the moon, and start drilling - a plan which may come sooner than we think.
It’s understood that NASA’s Artemis mission plans to send a male and female astronaut to the moon by 2024, while British scientists are also developing a robotic drill to take samples of lunar soil, as part of a Russian mission scheduled for 2025.
by Kyle Roshen Jacob