Dr. Paul Hertz, Nasa Astrophysics Division Director, on the Recent Discovery of Water on the Sunlit Side of the Moon.

October 27, 2020

This discovery challenges our understanding of the lunar surface and raises intriguing questions about resources relevant for deep space exploration.

  • WHAT HAPPENED: NASA found traces of water in a crater located in the Moon’s southern hemisphere, which is visible from Earth, using its SOFIA Telescope. “Data from this location reveal water in concentrations of 100 to 412 parts per million – roughly equivalent to a 12-ounce bottle of water – trapped in a cubic meter of soil spread across the lunar surface,” according to NASA.
  • WHY IT MATTERS: NASA doesn’t yet know how the water got there or what’s keeping it trapped there, but the discovery means that water is present in other places on the Moon’s surface other than cold, dark areas. Also, although it’s not yet clear if the water may be used as a resource, it could potentially allow astronauts to carry more equipment (and less water) on later space discovery missions.
  • ONCE IN A BLUE MOON: Normally we see 12 full moons every year. Some years, we actually get an “extra” full moon, and 2020 is one of those years when we’ll get 13 full moons. The second full moon in a one month time period is called a blue moon – hence the expression, “once in a blue moon.” On Saturday night (Halloween), there will be a blue moon. It will be the first full moon visible across the U.S. on Halloween since 1944, according to the Farmers’ Almanac.

by Jenna Lee,