Making a bigger splash than expected, the crash of an empty rocket stage in a permanently shadowed crater near the moon's south pole last month kicked up a surprising amount of water ice and vapor, confirming the presence of a potentially valuable resource for future space travelers.
"I'm here today to tell you that indeed, yes, we found water," said Anthony Colaprete, the project scientist and principal investigator for the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite. "And we didn't find just a little bit, we found a significant amount."
Holding up water jugs to make the point, he said "if you remember, a month ago we were talking about teaspoons going into glasses over football fields. Well, now I can say today that in the 20- to 30-meter (65- to 100-foot-wide) crater LCROSS made, we found maybe about a dozen of these two-gallon buckets worth of water."
And more than water. Data from the LCROSS instruments show signs of other compounds that may shed light on the moon's evolution.
"It's a whole lot more beyond the water," Colaprete said. "That's the exciting part in my mind, it's not only about the water now. There's actually a lot more here that we're going to be talking about in the months ahead, looking at the LCROSS data."
Said Greg Delory, a researcher at the University of California at Berkeley: "This is not your father's moon. Rather than a dead and unchanging world, it could in fact be a very dynamic and interesting one that could tell us unique things about the Earth-moon system and the early solar system."… Read more