Friday, 22 Oct, 2010 Science

Moon Has Enough Water to Sustain Manned Lunar Base


In 2009 NASA managed to smash the Centaur upper stage of the LCROSS spacecraft into a lunar crater called Cabeus, which is located near the south pole of the moon. The agency intended to study the debris that was kicked up after the impact.

Recently NASA concluded that the moon may include just enough water to maintain a lunar base with people onboard.

It would be interesting to note that the Lunar Reconaissance Orbiter (LRO) was observing the spacecraft when the latter hit the crater at a speed of more than 5,600mph. The collision sent up a cloud of moon dust that rose at an altitude of 12 miles. Till now the space agency has been studying the material and managed to discover somewhat large quantities of water.

In addition, NASA researchers found such substances as hydrogen, ammonia and methane. In the future it would be possible to make use of these substances to make fuel, reports TGDaily.

Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS project scientist considers that mostly pure water ice grains found in the plume indicates that chemical processes led to the accumulation of ice in large quantities. It is also possible that water ice was brought there, perhaps from asteroids.

He also added: "the diversity and abundance of certain materials called volatiles in the plume, suggest a variety of sources, like comets and asteroids, and an active water cycle within the lunar shadows."

David Paige, principal investigator of LRO's Diviner instrument, together with his colleagues concluded that the vast areas of the moon's south pole are cold enough to trap water ice, as well as a number of volatile compounds, including sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, formaldehyde, ammonia, methanol, mercury and sodium.

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