NASA is to announce an “exciting new discovery” about the Moon today.
A team of four NASA experts will announce the findings at a teleconference this afternoon which will be live streamed.
The space agency hasn’t given much away about the new discovery, but they have said it “contributes to NASA’s efforts to learn about the Moon in support of deep space exploration.”
They add: “Under NASA’s Artemis program, the agency will send the first woman and next man to the lunar surface in 2024 to prepare for our next giant leap – human exploration of Mars as early as the 2030s.
“Understanding the science of the Moon also helps piece together the broader history of the inner solar system.”
The briefing will include Paul Hertz, astrophysics division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington, Jacob Bleacher, chief exploration scientist for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, Casey Honniball, postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre and Naseem Rangwala, project scientist for the SOFIA mission, NASA’s Ames Research Centre.
NASA says that the findings come from the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) – a modified 747 that flies high in the atmosphere, the Mirror is reporting.
NASA explained: “As the world’s largest airborne observatory, SOFIA is a modified 747 that flies high in the atmosphere to provide its nearly 9-foot telescope with a clear view of the universe and objects in our solar system.
“Flying above 99% of the atmosphere’s obscuring water vapor, SOFIA observes in infrared wavelengths and can detect phenomena impossible to see with visible light.”
This indicates that the discovery could relate to water around the Moon’s south pole – considered to be a key resource for astronauts on further lunar missions.