A newly published study is challenging previously held notions about the moon’s water resources. According to the study, water may be widespread across the lunar surface, a reality that comes with some exciting possibilities. Assuming the water is reasonably easy to access, the widespread nature of the water could make it a suitable resource for human visitors who could harvest it as drinking water, among other things.
Water remains a key resource for any human expeditions to any celestial bodies — if it’s not present locally, humans will have to transport huge quantities of it, posing a problem. While it is known that our moon contains water, it was previously believed to be confined to certain regions or terrains. A study published in Nature, though, reveals that may not be the case.
The findings come from the analysis of data gathered during a pair of lunar missions. As noted by NASA, the study indicates the water is present during both the day and the night, and that it is widespread across the lunar surface. This doesn’t necessarily mean the water is easily accessible, though, so how much of an impact this reality will have on future manned missions isn’t clear.
In addition to helping experts determine how lunar water can be utilized as a resource, this info also helps researchers better understand the moon’s water origins. Past research had indicated that the water was localized around the moon’s polar latitudes and that it varied based on the day. Talking about the research is the study’s lead author Joshua Bandfield, a senior research scientist at the Space Science Institute:
We find that it doesn’t matter what time of day or which latitude we look at, the signal indicating water always seems to be present. The presence of water doesn’t appear to depend on the composition of the surface, and the water sticks around.