Humans first landed on the Moon on July 20, 1969, and since then our understanding of it has changed. Even since Galileo Galilei’s early discoveries of the Moon in the early 17th century, what we know about the satellite, including what’s on its surface, continues to develop with time.
Here are some interesting facts about the Moon, including if it has water.
Is there water on the Moon?
Since 1645, scientists have hypothesized about the presence of water on the Moon. Dutch astronomer Michael van Langren noted the dark spots on the Moon’s surfaces as “maria,” or the Latin word for “seas,” in the first-known map of the satellite.
By 1892, American astronomer William Pickering concluded the Moon had no atmosphere, which led many to believe it had no water. In 1961, a paper by theoretical physicist Kenneth Watson offered that a water-like substance could exist on the Moon.
From the Apollo landings, soil samples of the Moon presented no sign of water. In the following years there would many discoveries that suggested the presence of water on the Moon. It was not until 2018 and 2020 that this was confirmed.
In 2018, data from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper confirmed locations of water ice in permanently shadowed regions on the Moon. In 2020, data from the Strategic Observatory for Infrared Astronomy showed that “water exists in concentrations roughly equivalent to a 12-ounce bottle of water within a cubic meter of soil across the lunar surface,” according to NASA.
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How far away is the Moon?
The Moon has an average distance of around 238,855 miles away from Earth, according to NASA. This distance equals about the length of 30 Earths.
At its farthest, the Moon is 252,088 miles away from the Earth. This is about the length of 32 Earths. At its closest, the Moon is 225,623 miles away, which is between 28 and 29 Earths-long.
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How long does it take to get to the Moon?
According to NASA, it can take between 2.5 and four days to get to the Moon.