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Apollo-Era Lunar Images Help NASA Find Water Ice On Moon; More On Poles, Say Scientists

The study also gives insights into the movement of water over the lunar surface.

The study also gives insights into the movement of water over the lunar surface.

Such lunar expeditions carve out an optimistic future of long-term lunar bases since access to water will be easier.

A new study has surfaced challenging the understanding of earthlings about the presence of water on the moon. NASA scientists have recently found water ice on the natural satellite. Here’s the catch, though: the water ice is located on the dayside of the moon.

Simulations based on previous findings concluded that water ice, which generally forms during the lunar night, will quickly burn off as soon as the sun shines above it. However, defying the rays of the burning star, water ice has been spotted on the dayside.

It turned into a possibility because the craters on the moon create small cold spots due to their shadows and facilitate the accumulation of water ice, even during the lunar daytime. So NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory experts scrutinized the images taken during the 1969-1972 Apollo moon landings and turned predictions into observations.

As a result, the new expectation scientists have built is to find water ice at the poles of the moon, where there are craters that are permanently shadowed. NASA will explore such areas in future lunar expeditions. It could also carve out an optimistic future of long-term lunar bases since access to water will be easier, and the need to carry water from the earth will diminish.

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Scientists Bjorn Davidsson and Sona Hosseini co-authored a study where they ran experiments, simulating the phenomenon using computer models, the Daily Mail reported. The study noted that since there is no thick atmosphere to dissipate heat evenly on the surface, extremely cold and extremely hot areas can exist in close proximities. The hot surfaces measuring 240-degree Fahrenheit, and the cold surfaces measuring -350-degree Fahrenheit.

The study also gives insights into the movement of water over the lunar surface. As the cold surfaces are exposed to sunlight, the water accumulated cycles back into the moon’s exosphere. These molecules refreeze and re-accumulate in other cold, shaded regions around the moon. Thus, the exosphere acts as a medium supporting the movement of water on the lunar surface.

The results are crucial as they can help NASA formulate a sustainable long-term stay on the natural satellite and gain a deeper understanding of water as a resource on the moon.

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first published:August 04, 2021, 20:43 IST