Water particles have been detected on the surface of the Moon by three missions, including an Indian probe.
The evidence, disclosed in new scientific papers, overturns the long accepted view that lunar soil is dry and comes just two weeks before a NASA probe is to crash into the surface near the Moon’s southern pole to see if water can be detected in the dust and debris released by the impact.
The new data was gathered by probes equipped with NASA instruments designed to map the Moon’s mineral composition.
The so-called Moon Mineralogy Mapper, or M3, uses the reflection of sunlight off the Moon’s surface to determine soil composition.
In one of the three papers published in the latest edition of the journal Science, researchers said they analyzed light waves detected by an M3 instrument on board an Indian satellite, Chandrayyan-1.
The reflected light waves indicated a chemical bond between oxygen and hydrogen – proof, the researchers said, of the existence of water on the Moon’s surface.
Until now, scientists had advanced the theory that there might be ice at the permanently dark bottom of craters at the Moon’s poles but that the rest of the Moon was totally dry.