A major breakthrough in our understanding of the moon and the composition of the lunar surface was made possible thanks to infrared imaging.
NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA)’s Faint Object infrared Camera for the SOFIA Telescope (FORCAST) worked together with a telescope that detected the wavelength for water, DPReview reports.
Casey Honniball (current postdoctoral fellow at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland) published the results as part of her doctoral thesis for the University of Hawaii at Mānoa.
“Prior to the SOFIA observations, we knew there was some kind of hydration. But we didn’t know how much, if any, was actually water molecules – like we drink every day – or something more like drain cleaner. 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,” she explains.
You can watch a YouTube video outlining the mission and its results here.
Chief exploration scientist for NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate Jacob Bleacher adds, “Water is a valuable resource, for both scientific purposes and for use by our explorers… If we can use the resources at the Moon, then we can carry less water and more equipment to help enable new scientific discoveries.”
As the scientists involved with the research are pointing out, it isn’t a lot of water but it is enough to raise even more questions such as how it got there in the first place.
Do you keep up with the latest in astrophotography and space exploration? What do you think of this discovery of water on the moon? Let us know your thoughts on this story in the comments section.