Finding water on the Moon could be easier with a Goddard technology that uses an effect called quantum tunneling to generate a high-powered terahertz laser, filling a gap in existing laser technology.
Locating water and other resources is a NASA priority crucial to exploring Earth’s natural satellite and other objects in the solar system and beyond. Previous experiments inferred, then confirmed the existence of small amounts of water across the Moon. However, most technologies do not distinguish among water, free hydrogen ions, and hydroxyl, as the broadband detectors used cannot distinguish between the different volatiles.
Goddard engineer Dr. Berhanu Bulcha said:
a type of instrument called a heterodyne spectrometer could zoom in on particular frequencies to definitively identify and locate water sources on the Moon. It would need a stable, high-powered, terahertz laser, which was prototyped in collaboration with Longwave Photonics through NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. […]