for the martians

Moon Not Only Has Water, but Lots of It

Wall Street Journal

Scientists have discovered significant amounts of water on the moon—about twice the quantity seen in the Sahara Desert—a finding that may bolster the case for establishing a manned base on the lunar surface.

In an audacious experiment last year, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration slammed a spent-fuel rocket into a lunar crater at 5,600 miles an hour, and then used a pair of orbiting satellites to analyze the debris thrown off by the impact. They discovered that the crater contained water in the form of ice, plus a host of other resources, including hydrogen, ammonia, methane, mercury, sodium and silver.

NASA announced its groundbreaking discovery of lunar water last October. Now, a more detailed analysis of the data—the subject of six research papers being published Friday in the journal Science—concludes that there is a lot more water on the moon than anyone expected.

“It’s really wet,” said Anthony Colaprete, co-author of one of the Science papers and a space scientist at NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. 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 so much water strengthens the argument for establishing 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.

Having a source of water on the moon is critical because the cost of transporting a large amount from earth would be prohibitive. On the moon, a bottle of water would run about $50,000, according to NASA, because that is what it costs, per pound, to launch anything to the moon.

The U.S. likely won’t be involved in manned voyages to the moon anytime soon. President Barack Obama recently canceled a NASA program to return astronauts to the lunar surface a decade from now. The agency, however, is working on the grander, longer-term prize of a manned trip to Mars. But other countries are gearing up. China has pledged to land astronauts on the moon by 2025 and India by 2020. Japan wants to establish an unmanned moon base in a decade, potentially setting the stage for a manned mission later. Only the U.S. has sent astronauts to the moon thus far.

Wall Street Journal

It’s disheartning to know that only U.S earthlings have been able to see my planet for it’s true beauty

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