NASA’s SOFIA Discovers Water on Sunlit Surface of Moon.

NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has confirmed the presence of water on the sunlit surface of the Moon. This indicates that water is not only limited to cold shadowed place but could be distributed across the lunar surface.


  • SOFIA has detected water molecules (H2O) in Clavius Crater.
  • Earlier observations of the Moon’s surface detected some form of hydrogen, however, they were unable to distinguish between water and its close chemical relative called hydroxyl (OH).
  • Sahara desert has 100 times more water than what SOFIA has detected in the lunar soil.


The genesis of SOFIA’s results lies in the presence of water on the moon that was observed by Apollo astronauts in 1969.


SOFIA is a modified Boeing 747SP aircraft. It allows astronomers to study the solar system and beyond. The study by SOFIA is different from what is studied by the ground-based telescopes. SOFIA has thus offer new means of looking at the Moon. SOFIA Flies at an altitudes of 45,000 feet. It is also known as Boeing 747SP jetliner having a 106-inch diameter telescope. It reaches above 99% of the water vapor in Earth’s atmosphere in order to get a clear view of the infrared universe. The jetliner uses Faint Object infraRed CAmera for the SOFIA Telescope (FORCAST) by which SOFIA picked up the specific wavelength of 6.1 microns.

Clavius Crater

It is one among the largest craters that is visible from Earth. It is located in the Moon’s southern hemisphere. It lies to the south of the prominent ray crater Tycho. The crater has been named for the Jesuit priest Christopher Clavius who is a 16th-century German mathematician and astronomer.