Using the SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) telescope, NASA found near the Clavius crater particles of (H2O) or other hydroxyls (OH) compounds after observing that area back in August 2018. The discovery opens the door to further exploration of our satellite, given its proximity. Having water on the Moon allows the scientists to explore how abundant water is in our solar system and how this potentially helps for the exploration of humans to other planets as well as answering the question if there is life beyond earth.
Although signs of water were already found on the surface of the moon by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2009, it is the first time that it is located outside the moon’s South Pole. The current discovery shows that water in the moon is more common than expected as it is found in areas where there is sunlit.
The Clavius crater is located in the rugged southern highlands of the moon and it is one of the largest craters formations with a diameter of 231,000 meters and depths of 3,500 meters. Due to its rugged surface, there are several areas where shadows are predominant and it is there where the spectra analysis found pockets of particles of (H2O) or other hydroxyls (OH). The study found that there were approximately between 100 to 400 µg g−1 H2O parts per million which suggests that the majority of the water is stored inside grains of lunar dust that protects it from the rough conditions of the lunar surface.
References: Nature.com, NASA