NASA’s discoveries have helped a lot in saving thousands of human lives. From tiny discoveries to massive inventions, which do not only improve humanity but also help us survive in the past years. Without risking their lives outside the planet, our own would be in jeopardy too.
One of its most remembered creations is a technology that detects heartbeats and was used to save lives during a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal in 2015. The device which found heartbeats despite the noise, rubble, dirt and any physical obstacle, miraculously rescued four men.
Today, as NASA spacecraft Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has found another astonishing discovery that can also aid in the development of humanity. The LRO has observed water molecules moving around the dayside of the moon, a finding that may prove beneficial as the space company plans to deploy astronauts back on the lunar surface.
The instrument carried by LRO is called ‘Lyman Alpha Mapping Project’ (LAMP) which is responsible for measuring sparse layer of molecules stuck to the moon’s surface. This kind of device as explained by a research paper published in Geophysical Research Letters, “helped characterize lunar hydration changes over the course of a day.” Scientists thought for the last decade that the Moon was arid, without any proof of water existence, but only showed pockets of ice in permanently shadowed craters near the poles.
According to John Keller, LRO deputy project scientist from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland, the study brought a significant beginning in advancing the water story on the moon ever since its first LRO mission. The failed missions throughout the years indicated that water molecules tend to change and eventually come off. This indication means that the amount and locations of the molecular activity were found to vary based on time of the day, making it impossible for the scientists to identify any water cycle in the moon.
In 2008, an Indian spacecraft recorded evidence of water gathered in the thin atmosphere above the Moon’s surface. And in 2009, NASA reconfirmed water on the moon through its LCROSS space probe which detected a significant amount of hydro group in the material thrown up from a south polar crater. However, both discoveries only revealed evidence of water “ice” patches near the surface of either pole, not the same water molecules that the recent discovery has indicated.
However, the water observed by LAMP does not decrease when the Earth shields the moon. This discovery suggested that water builds up over time rather than ‘raining’ down directly from the solar wind. A good indication that water life is possible in the lunar surface.
These results are now making history in the field of science and aeronautics. Understanding the lunar water cycle will help humans in learning about the accessibility of water that can be used by the civilization in the future and will aid a lot of future missions as well.
Amanda Hendrix, a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, gives us critical points on how the recent discovery can help humans shortly if given the budget and time to develop the said study fully.
People dreamt of having lunar water to drink, grow plants, take a bath, and wash clothes into, so this must be a dream come true if the recent discovery finds the quantities to be unusually large. Water ice could be mined to provide liquid water for drinking and plant propagation in order to preserve a living ‘organism’ into the moon. In addition, the presence of water on the Moon would be an important factor for NASA’s budget and costing since transporting water from Earth is expensive.
Also based on the study, lunar water can potentially be used by humans to use block radiation. Moreover, the water will be split into oxygen and hydrogen by solar panel-equipped electric power stations or a nuclear generator to provide us breathable oxygen, as well as, components for rocket fuel. Fuels intended to launch rockets, and other spacecraft are expensive. But, with lunar water, scientists can use it on their future missions to the moon, as well as, to other planets.
The search for the presence of lunar water has attracted considerable attention and motivated several recent lunar missions, mainly because of water’s usefulness in rendering long term-lunar habitation more possible.
The recent discovery proves that even in the darkest inky blackness of the moon’s craters, there is an oasis waiting to be discovered. If scientists and NASA will focus more on how these waters can help and aid the daily living of humans, then it will serve as a constant reminder that life is not only found on Earth. Is this a wishful thinking? Or a reasonable plan in the future? Share us your thoughts on the comment section below.