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.
Jeff Bezos Thanks Amazon Workers And Customers For Paying For His Flight To Space
The billionaire space race chalked up one more ignoble milestone on July 20 when the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, boarded a reusable rocket his company Blue Origin built and funded, flew to the edge of space for a moment of weightlessness, and came back down to earth.
You can watch the flight and learn more about the journey here.
The Amazon founder has faced withering criticism for accumulating his massive fortune on the backs of an exploited workforce that is subject to harsh working conditions and low pay in warehouses or Fulfillment Centers where staffers must urinate in water bottles in order to meet their quotas.
In his press conference following the launch, Bezos thanked that same workforce for helping him to shoot himself into space in a move that many critics have described as a simple “joyride.”
“I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for this,” he told the crowd, which responded with laughter. “Seriously, for every Amazon customer out there and every employee thank you from the bottom of my heart very much. It’s very appreciated.”
Critics on Twitter responded with derision, noting that Bezos was able to enjoy the trip at the expense of his hard-working employees.
“Thing is, employers are supposed to pay their employees, not the other way around, but that’s basically how Amazon works,” one user tweeted.
While another tweeter asked: “Maybe they’re searching space for signs of a livable wage or a way to pay their fair share of taxes?”
On Tuesday, Bezos blasted off in the sub-orbital New Shepard rocket from Texas. The date for the launch was chosen to coincide with the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Members of the crew, which included his brother mark and 82-year-old female astronaut Wally Funk, brought a number of historic items on the flight, including a piece of canvas from the conceptual plane originally flown by the Wright brothers, the goggles Amelia Earhart used to fly across the Atlantic, and a brass medal made from the first hot air balloon which flew in 1783.
Keanu Reeves Praised As Video of Him Offering Seat to Lady in Subway Resurfaces
Keanu Reeves is an actor who has long been loved by audiences —and not necessarily due to his acting skills, but due to how nice the John Wick star is.
And now, Reeves is once again earning praise as a “true gentleman” after resurfaced video footage shows Reeves giving up his seat on the subway.
The clip was shared by Instagram film fan account Cinemonkeys where it has since earned nearly 45,000 likes.
The video footage dates back to 2011, when it was shared on YouTube by a user of the video-sharing platform.
At the time, Reeves was already a superstar riding on the fame he earned from the Matrix, Speed, and a number of other blockbuster hits.
When Reeves notices a woman carrying a heavy bag, he quickly points to his seat and asks if she would like to sit. The woman accepts and Reeves gets up without hesitating to let her take his seat.
Reeves, ever the model citizen, then stands and holds onto a subway pole while carrying his bag.
The video has since been watched over 27 million times and was even cited in a 2019 Time magazine profile of the actor describing Reeves as the “soul mate” of the internet.
The resurfacing of the clip on Instagram once again impressed users of the platform.
“This human being’s soul honestly shines so bright,” wrote one user.
“OMG I love him in every single way,” another person commented.
“His kindness knows no bounds,” commented someone else.
Keanu is set to reprise his role as Neo in the upcoming fourth Matrix film directed and written by Lana Wachowski, who co-directed the earlier trilogy with her sister Lilly. He will also return to the silver screen in John Wick: Chapter 4, which will be released in 2022.
Drunk Man Rescues Injured Baby Bird By Sending It To Animal Shelter… In An Uber
An injured baby bird received a new lease on life after a young man who was inebriated had the good sense to send the little creature to an animal shelter because he and his friends were too drunk to drive.
In the Summer of 2019, a small lesser goldfinch suddenly appeared by itself at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah. The center’s chairman, Buz Marthaler, was notified by a volunteer who sent him a photo.
“It was a picture of this bird, and it had come by Uber,” Marthaler told FOX13. “It was just crazy.”
As it turns out, the tiny bird – which was only two weeks old – indeed rolled up to the site by its lonesome, the sole passenger in an Uber vehicle called by concerned citizens who found the injured creature.
Among those good Samaritans was Tim Crowley, who had been “day drinking” on that Saturday before he and his buddies witnessed the little bird fall from the sky.
“Impromptu, sitting in some camp chairs, hanging out, having a few drinks when we had a visitor fall out of the sky,” he explained.
Crowley then snapped a photo of the bird and sent it to the WRCNU, which instructed him to immediately bring the bird in. However, the group obviously couldn’t drive since they had been guzzling booze all day.
So Crowley decided he’d hail a cab for the creature.
“At first it was a joke, like, ‘Hey, maybe we should just call Uber!’” he said. “Then we were like, ‘No, really. Why not? We’re paying them.’”
As it turns out, the bird – since named “Petey Uber” by staff at the rescue center – likely would have perished if not for Crowley’s quick thinking.
Marthaler remains impressed by Crowley’s move and shared the news on its Facebook page.
“While we feel we’ve seen it all and can’t be amazed by anything, there is always someone out there to prove us wrong,” the shelter’s post read. “Thank you to the rescuer who helped this little one get the care it needed in a timely manner and thank you for keeping yourself safe and others on the road safe as well.”