On October 21, 2020, NASA stated that October 26 will see an thrilling announcement of the Moon-related discovery. Clues emerged that it could possibly be all about water.
Initially the information prompted aerospace geeks to take a position as regards to the invention and the explanation why NASA selected such a suspenseful method to announce its upcoming teleconference. Solely a few info could possibly be acknowledged with certainty: the invention was made utilizing Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), an enormous infrared telescope mounted on a Boeing 747; the press launch of the company additionally identified that the invention is related to the Artemis program, a plan to ship astronauts to the Moon in 2024.
Whereas many journalists and house geeks alike admitted having no clue of what the information might convey, the preliminary hypothesis centered round upcoming human habitation on the Earth’s satellite tv for pc. Then, a number of bloggers related the dots.
The weblog Nasa Watch dove into the careers of announcers of the upcoming teleconference and came upon certainly one of them – Casey Honniball, from NASA’s Goddard Area Flight Heart – labored extensively on using SOFIA-mounted telescope as a method to detect water molecules on the Moon.
Her publically-accessible PhD dissertation contained the precise recipe to take action and to make it higher and extra environment friendly than ever earlier than.
Certain, there already had been bulletins in regards to the discovery of water on the Moon’s floor – ever since Apollo missions within the early 70s detected traces of water vapor, and scientists confirmed its presence in lunar rock samples a number of years later. However these discoveries had been removed from definitive and the quantities had been negligible.
But the power to detect bigger portions and to extract them for human use, would make all of the distinction for the upcoming Artemis mission, which goals at establishing the groundwork for the Moon as a base for subsequent deep house exploration.
So, an announcement that NASA, utilizing Honniball’s methodology, discovered a method to do at the least a kind of issues is greater than seemingly. However why the secrecy then?
The early announcement of an announcement and a suspense wherein NASA holds the entire neighborhood of house fans could possibly be related to SOFIA, to not the invention itself. Because the finances of the company shrank by the years, the destiny of the 747-mounted observatory hung within the steadiness. It was grounded for a lot of 2020 because of COVID-19, and had issues with financing a decade earlier than that.
NASA has been suggested – and deliberate to – terminate SOFIA quite a few instances because of ballooning prices and a scarcity of essential discoveries. It met criticism even earlier than the launch in 2010, and each Obama and Trump presidential administrations proposed grounding it. There’s an pressing must show that the world’s solely airborne observatory of such scale can present some helpful outcomes. And that will reply the query why NASA places a lot effort to construct pleasure earlier than the approaching announcement.