To a planetary scientist, discovering a new source of water does indeed count as major moon news. Scientists have never before detected the signature of molecular water—real, bona fide H2O—in a region that receives sunlight. Until now, scientists didn’t think water could survive in sunlit spots. “We thought that it would be lost” to space, says Casey Honniball, a postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the new study’s lead researcher. The scientists suspect that the water resides among grains on the lunar surface or within glass beads, the delicate remnants of surface-melting meteor impacts.
This discovery also could help NASA build its case for a visit to the moon. The Trump administration has directed the space agency to send astronauts to the moon by 2024 under the Artemis program, named after the sister of Apollo. (The choice has a double purpose: