Scientists have finally confirmed the presence of water on the moon.
Casey Honniball, and colleagues at Nasa’s ASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, US, have detected a chemical signature that is unambiguously H2O on the moon. They were able to make their discovery by measuring the wavelengths of sunlight reflecting off the moon’s surface.
The water was discovered at high latitudes towards the moon’s south pole in abundances of about 100 to 400 parts per million H2O.
Mahesh Anand, professor of planetary science and exploration at the Open University in Milton Keynes said a lot of water has been discovered. “It is about as much as is dissolved in the lava flowing out of the Earth’s mid-ocean ridges, which could be harvested to make liquid water under the right temperature and pressure conditions.”
The existence of water has implications for future lunar missions because it could be treated and used for drinking; separated into hydrogen and oxygen for use as a rocket propellant; and the oxygen could be used for breathing. “Water is a very expensive commodity in space,” said Anand.
Until the 1990s, it was assumed the moon’s surface was dry until orbiting spacecraft found indications of ice in large and inaccessible craters near the moon’s poles.