The moon apparently isn’t nearly as dry as scientists once thought. That’s the message from researchers using data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to detect water molecules and the behavior of the moisture over the course of a lunar day.
Earth’s moon was once assumed to be a dry and dusty place, but over time that image has changed. Scientists discovered ice present near its poles and more recently we’ve learned that liquid water does indeed exist within the lunar surface material, called regolith. Now, the LRO has revealed that the water present on the moon’s surface actually moves around during lunar daytime.
A study on the moisture of the moon to be published in Geophysical Research Letters paints a vivid picture of the life water molecules on the surface. NASA sums up the water’s behavior as follows:
The Lyman Alpha Mapping Project used readings from the LRO to detect the presence of water in the regolith, allowing researchers to track the movement of moisture. It’s data like this that could be particularly useful when planning future missions and potentially even permanent settlements on the moon.