The only way for this water to survive on the sunlit moon surfaces where it was observed was to be embedded in mineral grains and protect it from the free and devastating environment. The researchers used data from SOFIA’s airborne observatory, a Boeing 747SP aircraft modified to carry a telescope.
“Many people think that the detection I have made is water ice, which is not true. It’s just the water molecules – because they are so scattered that they do not interact with each other to form ice or even liquid water, says Honniball.
The second study, also published in the journal Nature Astronomy, focused on so-called cold traps on the moon, regions on its surface that exist in a state of perpetual darkness where the temperature is below about negative 260 degrees Fahrenheit (negative 163 ° C). . It is cold enough for frozen water to remain stable for billions of years.
Using NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists led by planetary scientist Paul Hayne of the University of Colorado, Boulder, discovered what could be tens of billions of small shadows, many no larger than a small coin. Most are located in the polar regions.
“Our research shows that a number of previously unknown regions on the moon can accommodate water ice,” says Hayne. “Our results suggest that water may be much more widespread in the lunar polar regions than previously thought, making it easier to access, extract and analyze.”