After a week of dropping tantalizing hints about an “exciting new discovery” it had made, NASA has finally spilled the details about its stunning new find: there is water on the sunlit surface of the moon – and much, much more than previously expected.
While water ice has previously been found on the moon in the past – mainly in the frigid, shadowed regions of the moon’s huge craters and north and south poles – this is the first time that water has been found on those surfaces exposed to sunlight.
It was previously believed that if water on the lunar surface had been exposed to the warming radiation of the sun, it would evaporate.
However, it turns out that water molecules are trapped within mineral grains across the moon, with more water likely hidden in the ice patches residing under the permanent shadows along the lunar surface, which are believed to have not seen any sunlight for billions of years.
A team of researchers is reporting that the moon could have some 40,000 square kilometers of permanent shadows where hidden pockets of water in the form of ice could be harbored.
The discovery that water is capable of withstanding lunar conditions under sunlight could have major implications for any future efforts to settle the moon as a human settlement, offering a precious resource that future astronauts could potentially use for drinking, or as an ingredient in the production of rocket fuel.
“We had indications that H2O – the familiar water we know – might be present on the sunlit side of the moon,” said Paul Hertz, the director of the astrophysics division of the science mission directorate at NASA’s Washington headquarters. “Now we know it is there. This discovery challenges our understanding of the lunar surface and raises intriguing questions about resources relevant for deep space exploration.”
The discovery, which is detailed in a pair of papers published by the journal Nature, relied on NASA’s airborne Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, which is a Boeing 747SP aircraft modified to carry a telescope..
One team led by Casey Honniball of the Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland found molecular water on the lunar surface, trapped within natural glasses or between grains of debris. While past observations had difficulty discerning between water and hydroxyl – its molecular cousin –the new detection method offered clear findings.
However, the identified hydrogen and oxygen molecules are quite far apart, meaning that they are not lying in puddles or solid blocks of ice.
“A lot of people think that the detection I’ve made is water ice, which is not true. It’s just the water molecules — because they’re so spread out they don’t interact with each other to form water ice or even liquid water,” Honniball said.
The scientists believe that the water could have traveled by way of solar winds or from micrometeorites that contained some water.
Another paper found that the Moon’s “billions” of tiny craters have offered the ideal texture for creating shadowy regions across the moon, offering perfect conditions to hold frozen ice. Some of the shadows are no bigger than a small coin, according to researchers led by planetary scientist Paul Hayne of the University of Colorado, Boulder.
“Our research shows that a multitude of previously unknown regions of the moon could harbour water ice,” Hayne said. “Our results suggest that water could be much more widespread in the moon’s polar regions than previously thought, making it easier to access, extract and analyse.”
It still remains to be determined whether the water, which appears to be extant across our natural satellite, will be easily accessible to future explorers or settlers.
“We don’t know yet if we can use it as a resource, but learning about water on the moon is key for our Artemis exploration plans,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine noted in a tweet.
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.