Recent NASA data gathered by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been in orbit around the moon since June 2009, and NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy airborne telescope (SOFIA) has confirmed what scientists have speculated for decades—there’s water on the moon. “For the first time, water has been confirmed to be present on the sunlit surface of the moon,” said Paul Hertz, director of the astrophysics division at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate during a press conference on Monday, October 26.
The water found could fill a 12-ounce bottle of water. It was found on sun-lit surfaces that were previously thought to be too dry for water to survive as there’s no atmosphere to protect the moon from the sun’s harsh rays. Previously, a spacecraft had found indications of ice near the moon’s poles. The water was found to be located in high latitudes near the moon’s south pole.
The confirmation of H2O is a spectacular finding for future lunar missions and further space exploration as the water could be treated and used for drinking. Or, it could be separated into hydrogen and oxygen for rocket propellant and oxygen for breathing. This news means NASA is expected to move forward with further moon missions.
To learn more about the water found on the moon it NASA’s 2024 Artemis mission intends to send a male and female astronaut to the moon. Drilling the surface of the moon may be the next step to further understand the water there. A 2025 Russian moon mission plans to use a robotic drill developed by British scientists to extract samples of lunar soil.
To prevent the moon’s resources from being exploited the Artemis Accords was created with a set of international agreements intended to govern future exploration of the moon was signed earlier in October by eight countries.