(KRQE)- NASA has announced that its Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has confirmed for the first time, water on the sunlit surface of the moon. The discovery specifies that the water may be distributed across the lunar surface and is not limited to cold, shadowed areas.
SOFIA has discovered water molecules in Clavius Crater which is one of the largest craters that can be seen from Earth. NASA reports that previous observations of the moon’s surface has detected some form of hydrogen but were not able to distinguish between water and hydroxyl (OH).
NASA says that data the location shows water in concentrations of 100 to 412 parts per million, roughly equivalent to a 12-ounce bottle of water- trapped in a cubic meter of soil spread across the lunar surface.
“We had indications that H2O – the familiar water we know – might be present on the sunlit side of the Moon,” said Paul Hertz, director of the Astrophysics Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Now we know it is there. This discovery challenges our understanding of the lunar surface and raises intriguing questions about resources relevant for deep space exploration.”
NASA states that in comparison to the discovery, the Sahara desert has 100 times the amount of water than what SOFIA detected in the lunar soil. This discovery raises new questions for NASA officials such as how the water is created and how it is able to exist despite the airless lunar surface.
SOFIA is the world’s largest airborne observatory and is a modified Boeing 747 aircraft with a nearly 9-foot telescope that flies in the atmosphere. NASA reports SOFIA makes observations in infrared wavelengths and can detect phenomena that cannot be seen with visible light.
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