A group of researchers from the Technical University of Dortmund, Germany, used data from the Moon Mapping Mission to search for clues of water in the spectrum of light reflected from its surface. By looking at which wavelengths of light are absorbed or reflected by the surface, scientists could get an idea of which minerals and other compounds are present.
In a paper published in Science Advances, the authors found there is water present across the whole surface of the moon, at all times of the day.
Previously it had been thought there was only water at the poles, and our current explanation of how water forms on the moon would not explain it being found at all times of the day. This means there might be something else going on, like a reservoir of water lurking underneath the surface.
“‘Possible sources are, amongst others, hydrated minerals or a reservoir at large depth,” Professor Christian Wöhler, lead author, told Wired.
Earlier this year, Professor Stephen Hawking said mankind could have a station on the moon within 30 years, saying it will be a useful stopping off point to other planets. But one of the biggest problems for any human settlement is the difficulty in transporting vast quantities of water from Earth.
A study in July found volcanic deposits scattered across the surface of the moon containing unusually high amounts of trapped water, but another paper published in August contradicted this. Dr James Day, a geochemist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the leading author of the August study, said at the time: “This is actually quite important. If the moon is dry — like we’ve thought for about the last 45 years, since the Apollo missions — it would be consistent with the formation of the moon in some sort of cataclysmic impact event that formed it.”
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