NASA Wants To Learn All About Moon Water Before Sending First Woman There In 2024
NASA plans to learn all it can about the water discovered on the Moon ahead of the first woman and the next man’s arrival there in 2024.
Following days of build-up, NASA announced yesterday, October 26, that it had discovered a series of water traps on the Moon that could be used in space expeditions.
Paul Hertz, director of the Astrophysics Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, said the discovery ‘challenges our understanding of the lunar surface and raises intriguing questions about resources relevant for deep space exploration’.
The space agency has not yet determined exactly how the water is being stored, but the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is now planning follow-up investigations to learn more about what’s going on up there.
SOFIA is a modified Boeing 747SP jetliner with a 106-inch diameter telescope that was previously designed to look at objects such as black holes, star clusters and galaxies. In August 2018, operators decided to turn their attention to the Moon, despite being unsure if they would get reliable data.
Naseem Rangwala, SOFIA’s project scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, said questions about the water on the Moon ‘compelled us to try’, and out of what was ‘essentially a test’ came the major discovery.
In a press release about the discovery, NASA said SOFIA’s future observations will look for water in additional sunlit locations and during different lunar phases to learn more about how the water is produced, stored, and moved across the Moon.
The findings will aid the work of future Moon missions and allow NASA to create maps indicating water resources for future human space exploration.
The agency wants to gain as much knowledge as it can ahead of the next Moon landing mission, which is set to take place in 2024. The mission, which will take place under the Artemis program, will see the first woman ever set foot on the Moon and the first man since 1972.
Jacob Bleacher, chief exploration scientist for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, explained that tapping into the Moon’s water stores would mean missions can carry less water and more equipment ‘to help enable new scientific discoveries’.
Water is a valuable resource, for both scientific purposes and for use by our explorers.
The Artemis mission will see astronauts fitted with modern spacesuits that allow for greater flexibility and movement than the spacesuits used previously.
Those involved in the mission will be tasked with collecting samples and conducting ‘a range of science experiments’ over the course of nearly seven days.
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