It’s been almost 50 years since a human first set foot on the moon. Since then, our knowledge about Earth’s closest neighbor has improved by leaps and bounds, and our obsession with it has never waned. Witness some of the most amazing images of the moon ever recorded and be reminded of the significant influence of our moon in BBC America’s new documentary “Wonders of the Moon,” premiering Friday, July 19 at 10 p.m. EDT/9 p.m. CDT. As the world begins its commemoration of the awe-inspiring first walk on the lunar surface, let’s review five of the most recent and fascinating scientific findings about the moon.
- There is water on the moon, and it jumps around.
In 2009, data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) led to the discovery of water on the moon locked up in ice. A recent upgrade to the orbiter, called the Lyman Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP), has allowed scientists to take a closer look at the water on the lunar surface. LAMP has revealed that water molecules move around the moon as the lunar surface warms and cools throughout the day.
Water remains stuck on the moon’s surface until the lunar midday, when some of the water melts and heats up enough to lift into the moon’s delicate atmosphere. The water floats around a bit until it reaches an area cool enough to make it settle back down to the surface.
Water on other planetary bodies could be a valuable resource for human explorers to not only drink but also to serve as fuel for future robotic exploration, since water can be split to form rocket fuel, saving missions from having to carry that fuel from Earth.