Divya Gandhi

BANGALORE: Speculation is rife among space scientists that the quest for water on the moon may have reached a climactic end with the discovery of “a lot of water” by an instrument on board Chandrayaan-I.

A report by the online space news portal, Space Ref, says this discovery, made by the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) on board the Indian mission, will be the subject of a press conference, to be addressed by Carle Pieters, planetary geologist and principal investigator of the instrument, at the NASA headquarters on Thursday.

The Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3), an imaging spectrometer, was one of the 11 instruments on board Chandrayaan-I that came to a premature end on August 29. M3 was aimed at providing the first mineral map of the entire lunar surface.

Hinting at this exciting development, a recent report published by Nature News says: “Results soon to be published… will show detailed spectra confirming that, indeed, the polar regions of the moon are chockfull of water-altered minerals.”

Lunar scientists have for decades contended with the possibility of water repositories. They are now increasingly “confident that the decades-long debate is over,” the report says. “The moon, in fact, has water in all sorts of places; not just locked up in minerals, but scattered throughout the broken-up surface, and, potentially, in blocks or sheets of ice at depth.” The results from the NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter are also “offering a wide array of watery signals.”

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