Water Might Be All Over the Moon, New Research Shows
By Kasandra Brabaw, Space.com Contributor | February 27, 2018 07:10am ET
The moon’s water may be spread across its surface more evenly than researchers thought.
In 2009, three spacecraft confirmed that water exists on the moon, but until now, astronomers thought most of that water was confined to “cold traps” at the moon’s poles. Now, a new analysis of two lunar missions throws doubt on that theory and suggests that water could actually be spread across the moon’s surface.
The analysis, published in the journal Nature Geoscience on Feb. 12, could help researchers understand where the moon’s water comes from and how helpful the water would be as a resource for Earth, whether it’s collected for drinking water or converted into hydrogen and oxygen for rocket fuel or into air for future space explorers.
Although this new analysis doesn’t give researchers a sense of how accessible the water is, it does suggest that both H2O and OH (a molecule known as hydroxyl) are spread across the moon’s surface and can be found day and night. [The Search for Water on the Moon in Photos]
“We find that it doesn’t matter what time of day or which latitude we look at; the signal indicating water always seems to be present,” Joshua Bandfield, a senior research scientist with the Space Science Institute and lead author of the study, said in a statement from NASA. “The presence of water doesn’t appear to depend on the composition of the surface, and the water sticks around.”
Previous studies suggested that water and hydroxyl — a relative of H2O that’s made with just one oxygen molecule and one hydrogen molecule — were found mostly at the poles in “cold traps,” regions that are so cold that water vapor and other volatiles will remain stable there for up to several billion years. The researchers also found that the strength of the reflective signal used to detect water depended on the lunar day (which is equal to 29.5 Earth days), the statement said.
The same article includes a 7 minute video from NASA explaining the evolution of the Moon. For those who doubt that men ever went to the moon, there are pictures of Apollo 17’s visit there in the form of the lunar lander, rover and human tracks on the surface.