Friday, November 13, 2009

NASA Test Finds Significant Amounts of Water On Moon

This is a huge discovery since it means that future explorers to our closest celestial neighbor may have the means to sustain their existence without requiring constant resupply from Earth for their most basic of needs.
The satellite, known as Lcross (pronounced L-cross), slammed into a crater near the Moon’s south pole a month ago. The impact carved out a hole 60- to 100-feet wide and kicked up at least 24 gallons of water.

“We got more than just whiff,” said Peter H. Schultz, a professor of geological sciences at Brown University and a co-investigator of the mission. “We practically tasted it with the impact.”

For more than a decade, planetary scientists have seen tantalizing hints of water ice at the bottom of these cold craters where the sun never shines. The Lcross mission consisted of two pieces — an empty rocket stage to carve into the lunar surface and a small spacecraft to measure what was kicked up, but it too slammed into the surface.

For space enthusiasts who stayed up, or woke up early, to watch the impact on Oct. 9, the event was anticlimactic, even disappointing, as they failed to see the anticipated debris plume. But NASA later said that a plume was indeed photographed; the live video stream was not properly attuned to pick out the details.

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