NASA officials at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) confirmed the first definitive evidence of water on the surface of the Moon, settling a decades-long debate about whether the substance was ice or simply hydrogen.
NASA says it found definitive proof of water, or more specifically water ice, on the moon’s surface. It’s located at the darkest and coldest parts of the moon’s polar regions. At the north pole the ice is sparsely, but widely, spread out. Most of it at the southern pole is in lunar craters.
The team of scientists, led by Shuai Li of the University of Hawaii and Brown University, used data from NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper to confirm the water ice at the moon’s dark and cold north and south poles.
“Most of the newfound water ice lies in the shadows of craters near the poles, where the warmest temperatures never reach above -250 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of the very small tilt of the Moon’s rotation axis, sunlight never reaches these regions,”
– NASA said in a statement.
Previous observations found possible signs of surface ice on the lunar south pole. This latest discovery could mean water is more easily accessible, however, clearing the way for future expeditions.
With enough ice sitting at the surface – within the top few millimeters – water would possibly be accessible as a resource for future expeditions to explore and even stay on the Moon.
It is now also believed that there is water in the interior of the moon, as indicated by a research paper published last year, that we wrote about.
The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on August 20, 2018.