The moon’s surface holds more water than previously thought, scientists have confirmed – a discovery that could make deep space exploration easier than ever.
While it has been known that hidden pockets of water exist in the permanent shadows, this is the first time liquid has been identified in the sunlit areas.
Paul Hertz, director of the astrophysics division in the science mission directorate at Nasa headquarters in Washington, said: “We had indications that H2O – the familiar water we know – might be present on the sunlit side of the moon.
“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.”
Nasa had teased the announcement about the moon earlier.
It emerged that existing pockets of water on the moon could be much more common than scientists previously thought.
Researchers suggest that in some cases tiny patches of ice might exist in permanent shadows no bigger than a penny.
They explored phenomena on the moon called cold traps, which are shadowy regions of the surface that exist in a state of eternal darkness.
It is thought that many have gone without a single ray of sunlight for potentially billions of years.
Now scientists say there may be a lot more of these nooks and crannies than previous data suggests.
Paul Hayne, assistant...