NASA has confirmed the presence of water on the Moon's sunlit surface. This breakthrough suggests the chemical compound that is vital to life on Earth could be distributed across more parts of the lunar surface than the ice that has previously been found in dark and cold areas.
"We don't know yet if we can use it as a resource," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said, but he added that learning more about the water is crucial to the US plans to explore the Moon.
The discovery comes from the space agency's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA — a modified Boeing 747 that can take its large telescope high into Earth's atmosphere, at altitudes up to 45,000 feet. Those heights allow researchers to peer at objects in space with hardly any visual disruptions from water vapor.
The water molecules are in Clavius crater, a large hole in the Moon's southern hemisphere. To detect the molecules, SOFIA used a special infrared camera to discern between water's specific wavelength of 6.1 microns and that of its close chemical relative hydroxyl, or OH.