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DISCOVERY OF WATER ON MOON’S SUNLIT SURFACE

DISCOVERY OF WATER ON MOON’S SUNLIT SURFACE

Context

Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) telescope has confirmed the presence of water on the sunlit side of the Moon

Details

  • NASA has announced that its Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) telescope has confirmed the presence of water on the sunlit side of the Moon for the first time.
  • It implies that water may be distributed across the lunar surface and not limited to cold, shadowed places.
  • SOFIA, which is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Centre, is a 2.5m telescope, the world’s largest flying observatory that is flown on a Boeing 747-SP aircraft, which flies at an altitude of about 45,000 feet.
  • The telescope uses the Faint Object infraRed Camera for the SOFIA telescope (FORCAST), with the help of which it was able to pick up the specific wavelength of water molecules on the surface of the Moon.
  • It has detected these water molecules in one of the largest craters on the Moon located in its southern hemisphere, which is visible from the Earth, called Clavius.
  • The finding is important because it is the first time that water has been found on the sunlit portion of the Moon.
  • This implies that water may be distributed across the lunar surface. Secondly, while the amount of water that has been found is a small amount, it raises questions about how water is created, stored and how it persists on a harsh airless surface such as that of the Moon.

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