This path is a common refrain for Bridenstine, who as NASA administrator is tasked with executing the president's Space Policy Directive 1, which called for a renewed focus on human exploration, including a journey to the moon and eventually Mars. That's the message from researchers using data from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to detect water molecules and the behavior of the moisture over the course of a lunar day.
Up until the last decade, scientists thought the Moon was arid, with any water existing mainly as pockets of ice in permanently shaded craters near the poles.
The new measurements show how it varies by the time of day, "hopping" around as the lunar surface heats up.
Water molecules remain tightly bound to the regolith until surface temperatures peak near lunar noon.
'We recently converted the LAMP's light collection mode to measure reflected signals on the lunar dayside with more precision, allowing us to track more accurately where the water is and how much is present'.
Amanda Hendrix, a Planetary Science Institute senior scientist and lead author of the paper, said in the press release said, "These results aid in understanding the lunar water cycle and will ultimately help us learn about the accessibility of water that can be used by humans in future missions to the moon". It's data like this that could be particularly useful when planning future missions and potentially even permanent settlements on the Moon. Next, the water molecules thermally desorb and can "hop" to a nearby location that is cold enough for the molecules to stick to the moon's weak atmosphere, until temperatures decrease and the molecules return to the moon's surface.
On the Gateway, America and its partners will prepare to transit deep space, testing new technologies and systems as we build the infrastructure to support missions to the surface of the Moon and prepare for the epochal mission to Mars.