Researchers said that there appears to be "water traps" on the moon that keep the liquid stable, and there could likely be water distributed across the entire surface of the moon, rather than just in colder areas that don't see sunlight.
It isn't yet understood how the water got onto the lunar surface and how it manages to stay there despite conditions that don't seem to be hospitable to H2O.
Paul Hertz, director of the Astrophysics Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA, confirmed the news.
"Now we know it is there. This discovery challenges our understanding of the lunar surface and raises intriguing questions about resources relevant for deep space exploration," he said.
Prior to the new discovery, scientists thought that water only existed on the side of the moon that never saw the sun. But on the sunny side, it was thought that any water would be lost as it evaporated through the thin atmosphere. Based on the new research, that doesn't appear to be the case.
"[The SOFIA aircraft] has detected water molecules (H2O) in Clavius Crater, one of the largest craters visible from Earth, located in the Moon's southern hemisphere. Previous observations of the Moon's surface detected some form of hydrogen, but were unable to distinguish between water and its close chemical relative, hydroxyl (OH)," NASA announced.
Casey Honniball, who led the study, said that prior to the breakthrough, scientists didn't know how much water was available and if it was in a form that could be used by life, rather than something more like "drain cleaner."
NASA said that it is now examining whether or not the water is accessible and can be used as a resource. If it is available, it might mean that it's possible to have a sustainable human presence on the lunar surface by the end of this decade.
It could also be used as fuel for deep space exploration and could be turned into oxygen. Having water means that travelers could carry less equipment and water if there was an available source.
It's worth noting, however, that the amount of water there is extremely limited and nothing like what is available on Earth. The new discovery found only 1 percent of the water in the famously dry Sahara desert, for instance.
NASA said it intends to continue further research now that the discovery has been made. Researchers are also busy prepping for a mission that will seek to prove if there is life on Mars, as The Inquisitr previously reported.