Nasa is announcing an 'exciting' new discovery about the Moon on Monday afternoon.
The contents of the announcement have been kept under wraps, but Nasa have said it will “contribute to Nasa’s efforts to learn about the Moon in support of deep space exploration”.
Those speaking at the event include Paul Hertz, Jacob Bleacher, Naseem Rangwala and Casey Honniball. The first three are senior members within Nasa, but the inclusion of Casey Honniball offers the biggest clue on possible contents of the announcement. She has conducted extensive research on the space agency's efforts to find water on the moon.
Nasa is making the announcement today from the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).
SOFIA is the world's largest airborne observatory. It is a modified 747 plane that flies high in the atmosphere.
Water is not in liquid or solid form
Nasa say that, while they have discovered water, it is not in a recognisable solid or liquid form. Rather, the identified hydrogen and oxygen molecules are so far apart, they are neither in liquid or solid form, Ms Honniball noted.
Water trapped in 'cold traps'
Nasa say that much of the water they have discovered is in 'cold traps'.
A cold trap is an area where the temperature is approximately -163 degrees Celsius, cold enough to trap water for millions, or possibly billions, of years.
These cold traps range in size, from being a few metres to 18 miles across.
"Since the little ones are too small to see from orbit, despite being vastly more numerous, we can't yet identify ice inside them," Paul Hayne said. "Once we're on the surface, we will do that experiment."
Two likely ways water arrived on the Moon
Nasa say that water likely arrived on the Moon either via solar winds or tiny meteorites, although they have yet to confirm how the water got there
More observations needed to know if the water is moving
Nasa say the information they have from the SOFIA observatory is only a snapshot in time, and more research is needed to see if the water is mobile
Presence of water does not indicate life
Scientists say that, despite the discovery of more water, they still believe that the Moon is "too inhospitable" to have ever supported life on its surface.
Ms Honniball said that there are "many other factors" required to support life beyond water.
Nasa have 'multiple ways' of extracting the water
Nasa say they still have much to learn about accessing the water, but they are exploring 'multiple ways' of accessing the water.
Nasa provide illustration
Nasa have provided an illustration showing the water has been discovered at the south pole. It is not clear whether the water they have found is in solid or liquid form.
Nasa said the water condensation was found at 100 to 400 parts per million
"To be clear this is not puddles of water. It is water molecules so spread apart they do not form ice or liquid water."
The water could have come from the solar wind or micro meteorites.
Water found in Clavius Crater
Nasa say that a large amount of water has been discovered in the Clavius Crater, located at the southern hemisphere of the Moon.
Nasa estimate '15,000' square miles of water currently on the Moon
Scientists have announced that 15,000 square miles of frozen water could be on the Moon.
Scientists say that the water is trapped as it contains tiny fragments of glass which prevent it from evaporating when it is exposed to direct sunlight.
Scientists had previously thought that water could not remain on the surface of the Moon as the Moon has no atmosphere.
Scientists explain the importance of today's news
"Several studies have shown water on the moon's surface is in its permanent shadowed craters."
"Today we are announcing that for the first time water has been confirmed to be present on a sunlit surface of the moon."
"This is exciting because the expectation is that any water present on a sunlit surface of the moon would not survive the lunar day."
"It might be distributed across the lunar surface and not limited to the cold shadowed places near the lunar poles where we have previously discovered water-ice."
Water key for Artemis programme
Nasa say that having water available to use on the Moon is highly valuable as it could be used for fuel, for astronauts to drink or converted in to breathable oxygen.
Water is also "extremely heavy" so not have to take any on board a spacecraft allows for astronauts to pack other, essential supplies
Water discovered still 'may not be usable resource'
Nasa say they hope that the water they have discovered could be used for deep space exploration, but it is not yet known whether this water is accessible.
The water was discovered at the southern hemisphere of the Moon in a crater.
Scientists estimate that there is the equivalent of a "12oz bottle of water for every cubic metre"
Nasa confirm water present on 'sunlit surface'
Nasa have announced for the first time that they have found water on the sunlit areas of the moon.
This is the first time water has been discovered in areas other than the shadowed areas. Scientists had previously believed that water would not be able to survive under the direct glare of the sun.
Announcement available to stream via Twitter
Nasa's official twitter page have provided a link through which everyone can watch the announcement, which will begin in about five minutes time
✨ Happy Monday, skygazers! We’re heading into the week with some fascinating news from @SOFIAtelescope about our brilliant beautiful Moon!
☕ Grab your favorite hot beverage & tune in beginning at 12:00pm ET: https://t.co/f1K1MFXFRn pic.twitter.com/pJfRE9hwpp
— NASA (@NASA) October 26, 2020
Nasa and Nokia partner to provide internet on the Moon
There is much speculation that today's announcement will relate to future manned deep space exploration. In order for such a mission to succeed, astronauts will require not just fuel, but an internet connection.
Last week, Nasa announced a $14.1m partnership with Nokia of America to build the first mobile phone network on the Moon.
The purpose of the network will be to provide communication for data transmission, including command and control functions, the remote navigation of lunar robots, and streaming high-definition video.
The initial system will be a 4G network, but Nokia have said they plan to upgrade it to a 5G network in the future.
Nokia and Nasa embarked on a similar collaboration in 2018, but the project was never completed.
Nasa to hold press conference from SOFIA observatory
Nasa will make an 'exciting' announcement on a new discovery they have made from the moon in just 30 minutes.
The press conference will take place on board the SOFIA observatory, which is a modified 747 plane that flies high in the atmosphere.