Last September, UT Knoxville’s Dr. Larry Taylor made a media splash with the announcement that he and other scientists had found evidence that water existed throughout the surface of the moon. More than a thousand media outlets carried news of the discovery.
Later in the year, along came NASA saying its LCROSS satellite had uncovered water even deeper inside the moon during its impact into a lunar crater.
Taylor and his colleagues based their findings on data from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper—M3 for short— a NASA instrument housed on an Indian satellite.
M3 analyzes the way light from the sun reflects off the lunar surface to understand what materials compose the lunar soil. Light is reflected off different minerals in specific wavelengths, so those reflected wavelengths show which minerals are in the thin upper layer of soil.