Why Has Russian Media Slammed US’ NASA For Discovering Water on Moon?

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the US has revealed on Monday that “Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has confirmed, for the first time, water on the sunlit surface of the Moon”.

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However, Russia’s state-owned media Sputnik has slammed NASA in a report saying that US scientists have ignored the Soviet Union’s discovery of water on Moon, almost 50 years ago.

SOFIA, a Boeing 747SP jetliner and the world’s largest observatory, has detected water molecules (H2O) in one of the largest craters visible from Earth Clavius Crater, located in the Moon’s southern hemisphere.

The NASA’s statement refers to previous observations when they detected some form of hydrogen, but were unable to distinguish between water and its close chemical relative, hydroxyl (OH).

The report further mentions that data from this location revealed “water in concentrations of 100 to 412 parts per million – roughly equivalent to a 12-ounce bottle of water – trapped in a cubic meter of soil spread across the lunar surface.”

The Sputnik in its report alleges that “if NASA scientists had read a bit more work from their Soviet colleagues, they might have realized that the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 probe made this discovery in 1976.”

“The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) dispatched dozens of probes to various objects in outer space, including the moon and Venus, making major contributions to humanity’s knowledge of the solar system. However, their work was often ill-read by Western scientists,” states the media report.

It highlights the paper published in 1978 in Geokhimiia (Geochemistry), the monthly scientific journal of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, which declared that it had discovered water on the lunar surface in the Mare Crisium crater.

Furthermore, it mentions that the article by M.V. Akhmanova, B.V. Dementyev & M.N. Markov makes definitive claims about discovering water.

As per Arlin Crotts, an astronomy professor at Columbia University, the three scientists had had drilled two meters down into Mare Crisium and extracted 170 grams of lunar soil. They proved the lunar soil was composed of roughly 0.1% water by mass, with more water appearing further below the surface you went by using infrared absorption spectroscopy, as per Sputnik report. Unfortunately, their work has never been cited.

Meanwhile, probing the presence of water, NASA says that water may have been created or delivered on the moon surface due to several factors.

“Micrometeorites raining down on the lunar surface, carrying small amounts of water, could deposit the water on the lunar surface upon impact. Another possibility is there could be a two-step process whereby the Sun’s solar wind delivers hydrogen to the lunar surface and causes a chemical reaction with oxygen-bearing minerals in the soil to create hydroxyl.

Meanwhile, radiation from the bombardment of micrometeorites could be transforming that hydroxyl into water,” it says.