Water on the Moon!

The extraplanetary oasis-ness was triple-confirmed by Cassini, the Chandrayaan-1 probe, and a few special guest scans by the Deep Impact system on its way to slam into a moving comet – if satellites could be superstars, this would have been a red-carpet event. Each detected the unmistakable spectroscopic signatures of oxygen and hydrogen combinations, meaning that water (H20) or hydroxyl (OH) is definitely up there. Even more interesting it has “weather” variations – more of it near the poles, and it moves around depending on daylight.

This is major moonbase news, as water is the single most difficult component of any manned space mission. The life-giving liquid has a thousand and one applications other than simply “preventing astronauts dying of thirst” – it’s just as essential for machinery as for mankind. Air can be compressed, and we require far less food (by volume), so the crippling cost of any off-Earth endeavour is carrying the liquids – fuel and water. The more of either stuff we can find anywhere the better. Plans for lunar living have so far been based on polar craters, where we suspect deposits of ice remain frozen in shadow (and we’ll know for sure shortly when the LCROSS mission blows one of them up to check – informative and awesome) and the idea of endless fields of fluid-harvesting are the stuff of science-fiction. Which now happen to be true.

(from Daily Galaxy)

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