Water on the moon is generally called “lunar water”. Even though water is tasteless, colorless and odorless, it is one valuable resource. Water is essential for daily use. For example, water is necessary for astronauts living on the moon. They need water to live and also for other purposes like generating rocket fuel and many more.
The discovery of the water
For the first time in 2009, the lunar water is found by the M3 instrument that is installed in chadrayaan-1. The location where the water was found is named as Jawahar point, it is near
Shackleton Crater. According to the reports by Nature Geoscience, in 2013, it is revealed that the lunar water found by chandrayyan-1 is water emerging from deep surfaces or is simply called magmatic water. Chandrayaan-1 was launched by ISRO on October 22, 2008, and it operated till August 28, 2009.
Now, in 2020, the lunar water is discovered on the sunlit surface of the moon in the southern hemispheres in the Clavius Crater. It is recognized by the SOFIA Telescope. SOFIA Telescope is a Boeing 747SP jetliner, it travels up to 45,000 feet and it is embedded with an infrared camera. The purpose of SOFIA is to observe distant and dark items. In 2018, researchers experimented with a test by SOFIA for tracking the moon. This experiment resulted in the finding of lunar water. The reports show that water is trapped in one cubic meter of soil with 100-412 ppm concentrations.
Hydrogen and Hydroxyl
There was some discussion on the lunar water found by chandrayaan-1 by NASA’s ground-based Infrared Telescope Facility and NASA’s Cassini and Deep Impact comet mission. The discussion is about whether the detected lunar water is water-like H20 or hydroxyl (OH). But the lunar water found by SOFIA is confirmed that it is real water and not hydroxyl.
The chemical formula of water is H2O and each molecule contains 1 oxygen and 2 hydrogen atoms and is connected by covalent bonds. Whereas hydroxyl with the chemical formula OH has oxygen bonded to hydrogen. Generally, alcohol, organic chemistry, and carboxylic acids have a hydroxy group.
The first moon mission is Luna 2 by the soviet union on 13 September 1959. Luna 9 is the first spacecraft to have a soft landing on the moon in 1966. The first spacecraft to enter orbit is Luna 10.
NASA conducted Apollo missions on the moon. These Apollo missions are manned missions and are performed between 1968 to 1972.
The first manned mission to the moon orbit is Apollo 8 in December 1968. In May 1969 Apollo 10 was launched followed by Apollo 11 in July 1969. With this, the first man to walk on the moon became Neil Armstrong. Chang’e 4 became the first lunar exploration mission to have a soft landing on the far side of the moon in 2019.
Chandrayaan-2 was foreseen to have a soft landing on the dark side of the south pole of the moon. But at the last moment, due to technical errors, the mission didn’t achieve a soft landing.
The water findings will be a huge help to the Artemis mission of NASA. NASA is planning to send the first women and the next men to the moon by 2024 through the Artemis mission. NASA is hoping to stabilize sustainable human presence before the decade ends. They are planning to use the resources on the moon’s surface so that the resource load carried from the earth for the astronauts will be reduced.
Speculations about the presence of water
Moon doesn’t possess a thick atmosphere. It is speculated by the researchers that the tiny amounts of water that is carried by the space rocks have collided with the moon and the hydrogen may have carried by the solar wind of the sun to the moon. After these minerals are reacted with each other hydroxyl may have formed that is later turned into water. NASA explained that the water may have been trapped in the rocky soil as the lunar soil is created by the collision of space rocks.
It is not yet known whether the lunar water found in the sunlit surface can be accessed easily or not. But according to the recalled reports by the study, lunar water on the shadowy regions or far side areas or simply called cold traps have water spread around 40,000 sq km.
SOFIA Telescope will continue to search for lunar water in the sunlit areas and will also study the formation, production, and storage of the water on the moon. Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) of NASA is planning to develop water resource maps on the moon for the first time.