Saturday, November 14, 2009

"Significant Amount" of Water on the Moon

NASA's LCROSS lunar impactor mission which culminated on October 9 has revealed a "significant amount" of water in the crater where the impact took place, according to mission scientists. This confirmation is a major break through in our understanding of the Moon.
"We are ecstatic," said Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS project scientist and principal investigator at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. "Multiple lines of evidence show water was present in both the high angle vapor plume and the ejecta curtain created by the LCROSS Centaur impact. The concentration and distribution of water and other substances requires further analysis, but it is safe to say Cabeus holds water."

Paul Spudis explains this development within the context of other recent lunar missions and emphasises that it enables human lunar development.
When the crater formed, flying ice particles could have refracted the glare of unfiltered sunlight into an "ice rainbow," similar to those seen through very high altitude clouds on Earth. For a very brief time, a rainbow might have been visible to an observer standing on the lunar surface. And like its namesake, this rainbow is a promise - a promise that the Moon is habitable. It is an invitation to humanity to extend man’s domain to our nearest planetary neighbor.
This discovery comes at a time when it could influence the decisions on the direction of the US space exploration program. It might also provide a powerful incentive for increased commercial activity on the Moon.

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