Written by Sanjana Nayakanti , a grade 6 student
What is Lunar Water?
Lunar water is a very rare substance. In simple terms, it is water found on the moon. It was first discovered by India’s ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) Chandrayaan-1 mission in 2008 and later by NASA’s (National aeronautics and space administration) SOFIA observatory in 2020. ISRO’s Chandrayaan-1 mission was not completely a success but gave us a good amount of information. Over the years, because of sunlight, water vapors decomposed into hydrogen and oxygen that was left in space.
How did NASA’s LCROSS and ISRO’s CHANDRAYAAN 1 make this huge discovery?
This discovery goes back to the year 2000, also involves a lot of space agencies. In 2009, ISRO’s CHANDRAYAAN 1 and NASA’s LCROSS missions finally discovered lunar water on the moon. When the satellite was orbiting the moon, it was made to crash on the side of the moon which we cannot see but the satellite can. Its mass spectrometer instrument found water molecules in the thin lunar atmosphere. This helped scientists to know that lunar water exists. Later NASA also confirmed that there is water on the moon.
Scientists found out that there is 100 times more water on the moon than they initially thought there was. While looking at some pieces of moon rock, they found water in tiny samples of magma (a rock made from cooled lava), which was trapped in crystals.
Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield said that water is a very valuable discovery. It’s like finding diamonds or gold on a remote frontier.
The scientists thought that now is the time to go back to the Moon and explore. Till most of the 20th century, the scientists were very sure that our nighttime beauty, the moon was very dry as the moon has an extremely thin atmosphere. Even if there was water at some point of the time, the sunlight would have exposed and the water would have been vaporized.
Does it exist now?
Lunar water as we know is very rare but recently some marks and pieces of ice are detected at the end poles, they have survived thanks to the super cold climate in space.
A little about Chandrayaan 1
Chandrayaan 1 was the 1st Indian lunar probe under the Chandrayaan mission of ISRO. It was launched on 22nd October 2008 from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, India. It was operated till Aug 2009. It was a major boost to India’s space program. The cost of this program was hopping Rs. 386 Crores.
About the future
Half of the moon does not receive sunlight for over a trillion years. As there is no sunlight, that part is almost invisible for satellites to take pictures. So the scientists think that there might be more water on that side of the moon.
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