In a landmark discovery, scientists have discovered water molecules in the polar regions of the moon, courtesy ISRO and India's maiden moon mission Chandrayaan-I, the NASA said on Thursday.
Instruments aboard three separate spacecrafts, one of them the Moon Mineralogy Mapper, a NASA instrument onboard Chandrayaan-I revealed water molecules in amounts that are greater than predicted, but still relatively small, it added.
"Water ice on the moon has been something of a holy grail for lunar scientists for a very long time," said Jim Green,
director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
"This surprising finding has come about through the ingenuity, perseverance and international cooperation between
NASA and the India Space Research Organisation," he said.
From its perch in lunar orbit, NASA said M3's state-of-the-art spectrometer measured light reflecting off the moon's surface at infrared wavelengths, splitting the spectral colours of the lunar surface into small enough bits to reveal a new level of detail in surface composition.
When the M3 science team analysed data from the instrument, they found the wavelengths of light being absorbed were consistent with the absorption patterns for water molecules and hydroxyl.
"For silicate bodies, such features are typically attributed to water and hydroxyl-bearing materials," Carle Pieters, M3's principal investigator from Brown University said.