22 October 2010

Our moon has an abundance of water

It was only about a year ago that I blogged my surprise at the report of water being discovered on the moon.  Now it appears that water is there in considerable quantities:
"It's really wet," said Anthony Colaprete, co-author of one of the Science papers... He and his colleagues estimate that 5.6% of the total mass of the targeted lunar crater's soil consists of water ice. In other words, 2,200 pounds of moon dirt would yield a dozen gallons of water.

The presence of water doesn't make it more likely that there ever was life on the moon, as the location studied is among the coldest in the solar system. But the large quantity boosts the case for a manned lunar base from which to launch other interplanetary adventures. Water is crucial because its components, hydrogen and oxygen, are key ingredients for rocket fuel. Oxygen can also be extracted from water to make breathable air...

The scientists also found molecular hydrogen in the soil. "That's interesting because if you want to make rocket fuel you could heat up the soil and hydrogen would come pouring out," said Dr. Gladstone.
Further details at the Wall Street Journal.

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