Water on the Moon might be more easily accessible than previously thought, opening up new possible avenues for future human exploration, according to a new study.
The new study in the journal Nature Astronomy confirmed that water can persist on the sunlit parts of the Moon, meaning that it's likely more easily accessible than previously expected for future explorers.
Scientists used SOFIA and the Faint Object infra Red CAmera for the SOFIA Telescope (FORCAST) instrument. Water sightings in sunlit regions have relied on detection of infrared light at a wavelength that could also be emitted by other hydroxyl compounds, which contain hydrogen and oxygen. There are several mechanisms for the origin of water in lunar soil. Water can be introduced by volatile-rich micrometeorites or Water can be formed in situ on grain surfaces from pre-existing hydroxyl that undergoes recombinative desorption at high lunar noontime temperatures releasing this water into the exosphere for later loss or trapping. Water can also be formed in situ from pre-existing hydroxyl during micrometeorite impact, when high temperatures promote the reaction, as has been recently demonstrated in the laboratory.
Source: Honniball et al. Nature Astronomy. 2020. doi: 10.1038/s41550-020-01222-x.