Written by Naina Singh, a grade 6 student (with inputs from Rhea Kochhar)
Water is a simple necessity of life here on earth, but what about space? Have you ever wondered, is there water in space? Astronauts have been going to space, since Yuri Gagarin went for the first time, in 1961. We have made some amazing discoveries about the Milky Way and other planets since then, and we discovered water on the moon, or lunar water, first in 1971. So, why are we talking about it now?
Recently, water was detected in places on the moon’s surface where none had been detected before. This was discovered by NASA. Let’s take a look at the benefits and importance of water on the moon.
Not only is water on the moon, a potential marker of life, but it also, has many benefits. Astronauts, who venture out into the moon, can carry less water from the earth, making it more convenient. The moon’s resources can also be used to generate rocket fuel. In 2024, NASA plans to send the first woman and next man to the moon, on a mission to establish a “sustainable human presence”
There have been many studies on the moon, prior to this one, including ISRO’s Chandrayaan 1. Though the Chandrayaan 1, did not fulfill 100% of its mission it was still a massive achievement. Evidence of water presence was found during the Chandrayaan 1. The M3, or Moon Mineralogy Mapper, aboard the Chandrayaan 1, and found evidence in the form of water molecules in Polar Regions. In 2013, a paper in Nature Geoscience analyzed M3 data and reported the detection of magmatic water (water originating from the deep interiors), on the surface of the moon.
New Discovery Details
As mentioned before, in a nutshell, the new discovery is water in places where none had been detected before. Although this is correct, let’s go into a little more detail. NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) confirmed water in the Clavius Crater, a crater in the moon’s southern hemisphere. It is one of the largest craters visible from earth. A crater is a bowl-shaped depression, or hollowed-out area, produced by the impact of a meteorite, volcanic activity, or an explosion. SOFIA, is a special aircraft that has a built-in reflecting telescope used for NASA’s discovery. It is also the first time that water has been detected on the side of the moon that receives sunlight, called the sunlit side.
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