SOFIA detected water on the sunlight surface of the moon for the first time in human history. It was previously known that water existed in some of the darkest and coldest regions on the moon. The big deal today is that there may be water available for use by humans on the surface and up to a meter below the surface of the moon.
This is a confirmation of molecular water in a sunlit region on the Moon. This is the first time that humans have confirmed the existence of moon-based water in locations other than those in deep freeze. Molecular water, H2O, was discovered in the Moon’s Clavius Crater. This is one of the largest craters on the Moon visible from Earth.
Per NASA, previously detected hydrogen on the sunlight surface of the moon was confirmed to be located in water molecules. The discovery indicates that “water may be distributed across the lunar surface, not limited to cold, shadowed places.” This is an important discovery because we now know that water exists outside of the most difficult-to-access areas of the moon.
The amount of water molecules discovered on the moon is equivalent to a 12oz bottle of water in a cubic meter of space on the moon. The discovery is so extremely tiny that NASA cannot yet suggest that it is liquid or solid. This is a big step toward a future in which water can be used in the future – it isn’t quite a glass of water just yet.
For more information on this discovery, take a peek at the research paper Micro cold traps on the Moon. This research paper was authored by P.O. Hayne, O. Aharonson, and N. Schörghofer and was published in Nature Astronomy. You can find this paper with code DOI: 10.1038/s41550-020-1198-9 as published on October 26, 2020.
You’ll also want to take a peek at Molecular water detected on the sunlit Moon by SOFIA. This paper was authored by C.I. Honniball, P.G. Lucey, S. Li, S. Shenoy, T.M. Orlando, C.A. Hibbitts, D.M. Hurley, and W.M. Farrell. This paper was published on October 26, 2020 with code DOI:10.1038/s41550-020-01222-x.