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NASA Study is Showing the Importance of Moon Water Ice

Water Ice, according to scientists, can be discovered near the Moon’s poles inside permanently shaded craters, or craters that never get sunlight. However, measurements suggest that Water Ice may be found across most of the lunar surface, even during the day. This is a conundrum: Previous computer models predicted that any Water Ice formed during the lunar night would burn off fast as the Sun rose higher in the sky.

Björn Davidsson, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, said, “Over a decade ago, spacecraft detected the possible presence of water on the dayside surface of the Moon, and this was confirmed by NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy in 2020. These observations were, at first, counterintuitive: Water shouldn’t survive in that harsh environment.”

In a new study, Davidsson and co-author Sona Hosseini, a JPL research and instrument scientist, propose that shadows cast by the lunar surface’s “roughness” provide a safe haven for Water Ice, allowing it to accumulate as surface frost far from the Moon’s poles. They also discuss how the Moon’s exosphere (the tenuous gases that act as a thin atmosphere) could play a key part in this riddle. Many computer models reduce the lunar surface to a flat, featureless surface.

As a result, it’s commonly considered that during lunar daytime, the surface distant from the poles heats up equally, making it difficult for Water Ice to stay on the sunlit surface for long. So, how is it possible to detect water on the Moon outside of continuously shaded areas? Water molecules may be trapped inside rock or impact glass formed by the enormous heat and pressure of meteorite crashes, according to one theory. As this idea proposes, water fused within these materials can stay on the surface even when heated by the Sun, creating the signal recorded by SOFIA.

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