On Oct. 9, 2009, NASA crashed a Centaur booster stage near the Lunar South Pole at Cabeus Crater to find any water on the Moon last year. Another spacecraft, the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, then imaged the Lunar soil as it blasted into space. Not only did NASA discover water on the moon, lots of water, far more than expected, but also other substances like hydrogen and even silver to make a manned Lunar base feasible. Mission chief scientist Anthony Colaprete of the NASA Ames Research Center and mission scientist Kurt Retherford of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio are excited by the results. Long with data from the LCROSS sister probe, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), scientists like Peter Schultz of Brown University and Greg Delroy of the University of California in Berkley believe that the Moon is a treasure chest in space.

water on the moon LCROSS
Image Source: NASA.gov

In June of 2009, NASA first launched the LRO mission and began a detailed mapping of the Moon’s polar regions. Four months later, the LCROSS mission was launched. Blasting the LCROSS out of the Earth’s orbit towards the Moon was achieved by using the Centaur upper stage rocket. But the Centaur served a double purpose. As the LCROSS mission approached the Moon, the Centaur stage was deployed and sent hurtling at 5,500 MPH to crash into the 60-mile wide Cabeus Crater.

Upon impact, a massive plume of lunar soil and debris was flung up into space. Using it’s special sensors and instruments, the LCROSS satellite recorded the material. In addition to water, hydrogen and silver, a wide range of substances were found in the lunar soil, such as sulphur, mercury, and methane. On Friday, six research papers were published in the journal Science reporting on the results.

The most important finding was that there is far more water on the Moon than previously thought. An estimated 12 gallons per ton could lead to being able to access a billion gallons or more easily by a manned lunar base. Enough for using from drinking and producing oxygen and hydrogen for rocket fuel. The implications of the discovery of mercury could be a problem, as it is highly toxic.

But NASA has found water on the Moon last year! Lot’s of water, thanks to the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. By crashing a Centaur booster stage into the Cabeus Crater, the probes scanned a debris plume of lunar soil as it was flung into space. While scientists like Anthony Colaprete of the NASA Ames Research Center and Kurt Retherford of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio disagree on the role mercury may play in future manned lunar bases, other scientists like Peter Schultz of Brown University and Greg Delroy of the University of California in Berkley are excited by the discovery of hydrogen and silver in the lunar soil.

water on the moon LROwater on the moon LRO mappingwater on the moon LRO spectrum

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