NASA finds water on moon's lunar surface

The moon lacks the bodies of water that are a hallmark of Earth… but scientists - in a pair of research studies published Monday - for the first time, have determined that lunar water is more widespread than previously known.

While research 11 years ago indicated water was relatively widespread in small amounts on the moon.. a team of scientists is now reporting the first unambiguous detection of water molecules on the lunar surface.

Plus - another team found the moon possesses roughly 15,000 square miles of permanent shadows that potentially could harbor hidden pockets of water in the form of ice.

NASA's Paul Hertz says the findings could have enormous implications:

“This first important thing is: is this water on the moon useful as a resource for our future explorers? The second thing is that, on the earth we find life wherever there is water, energy and nutrients. So when we look for life away from the earth, elsewhere in our solar system or on planets around other stars, one of the easier things we can look for first is the presence of water.”

NASA is planning a return of astronauts to the moon, a mission envisioned as paving the way for a later journey carrying a crew to Mars.

Accessible sources where water can be harvested on the moon would be beneficial to those endeavors.

Still, despite the findings of water on the lunar surface - its source unknown - Hertz says the moon is still dryer than any place on earth.

Video Transcript

- The moon lacks the bodies of water that are a hallmark of Earth, but scientists, in a pair of research studies published Monday, for the first time have determined that lunar water is more widespread than previously known. While research 11 years ago indicated water was relatively widespread in small amounts on the moon, a team of scientists is now reporting the first unambiguous detection of water molecules on the lunar surface. Plus another team found the moon possesses roughly 15,000 square miles of permanent shadows that could potentially harbor hidden pockets of water in the form of ice. NASA's Paul Hertz says the findings could have enormous implications.

PAUL HERTZ: So the first important thing is-- is this water on the moon useful as a resource for future explorers? The second thing is that on the earth, we find life wherever there is water, energy, and nutrients. So when we look for life away from the Earth, elsewhere in our solar system or on planets around other stars, one of the easiest things we can look for first is the presence of water.

- NASA is planning a return of astronauts to the moon, a mission envisioned as paving the way for a leader journey carrying a crew to Mars. Accessible sources where water can be harvested on the moon would be beneficial to those endeavors. Still, despite the findings of water on the lunar surface, its source unknown, Hertz says the moon is still drier than any place on Earth.