NASA Confirms Water Molecules On the Moon


Eugene Leung, Journalist

In space, water is one of the most limited resources in the world. In 1969, when Apollo Astronauts first came back from the Moon, they thought that it was completely dry. Over the past 20 years, one of NASA’s satellites confirmed ice in shadowed craters around the Moon’s pole. Recently, however, SOFIA, which also stands for Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (part of NASA) discovered water molecules on the Moon. It was discovered on October 26th in Clavius Crater, one of the biggest craters on the southern hemisphere of the moon.

Based on data from this large crater, there should be around 100-412 million parts of concentrations of water (12oz bottle of water) spread across the Moon. The sun would have knocked these water molecules to space, which is why scientists believe that it was in the soil of the Moon. In 2024, one of Nasa’s missions called Artemis is to research and learn more about H2O’s existence on the Moon. Another future mission occurring in 2022 is to bring a small robotic lander to the South Pole. Paul Hertz who is Director of the Astrophysics Division said, “This discovery reveals that water might be distributed across the lunar surface and not limited to the cold shadowed places near the lunar poles.” 

Since water is limited in space, this is a very important discovery for many astronauts. With this breakthrough, astronauts and scientists do not need to pack water and additional heavy equipment. Another big bonus is that water molecules have oxygen (H20 2 hydrogen atoms and 1 oxygen atom). It allows more space to breathe and can be used as rockets to thrust them back to Earth or somewhere else in space. Obviously, 12 ounces of water wouldn’t be enough for astronauts since most journeys are about 6 months. Scientists are looking for more water molecules on the moon. Areas like large polar craters with shadows are a more focused area since it is -400℉. Going to places like these on the Moon is very dangerous because it is cold and dark. Scientists call these micro cold traps. If this exists, using images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, we can find 15,000 square feet of ice. However, the volume of water is still unknown. If we find more water on the moon, this could make a huge impact on many astronauts. 

Did Arthur C. Clarke call it right? Water spotted in Moon's sunlit Clavius crater by NASA telescope • The Register