Native Village
Youth and Education news
November 1, 2010, Volume 3

 Usable Water Found in Moon Crater
Condensed by Native Village

After a year of analyzing data from NASA's LCross spacecraft, scientists say there's more water on the moon than on certain places on Earth.

The LCROSSwas the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite.  It was launched into space on a Centaur rocket, which fired it into Cabeus, a shadowed crater near the Moon's south pole. 

When the rocket hit the crater, LCROSS recorded information about the impact and debris plume. Minutes later, LCROSS itself crashed into the crater. Before it did, it transmitted all of its data back to Earth.

LCROSS's original mission was to search for traces of water. Not only did it find water, it found tons of it.

"There are areas that are in sunlight, not in permanent darkness, that have hydrogen signals," said Peter H. Schultz, a geology professor at Brown University. "Where there's smoke, there's fire, and in this case, where there's hydrogen, there's probably other things like water."

Schultz said the 60-mile-wide Cabeus crater may be wetter than some places on Earth. It may contain 1,000,000,000 gallons of water.

"Well, just do the math," Schultz said and explained.


This image shows a close-up of debris ejected from the Cabeus crater, center, about 20 seconds after the LCROSS -- Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite -- impacted the lunar south pole, looking for evidence of water, in October 2009.

The average water content was about 5.6%;
Take the size of the crater and calculate a depth of a couple meters,
You end up with a lot of stuff, and an enormous amount of water ice.

LCROSS found more than just water. It also found hydrogen, carbon monoxide, sodium, silver, mercury, magnesium, ammonia, methane, calcium and gold, among others.

"As in any mission of discovery or exploration, you get more than you bargained for -- you find something else," Schultz said. "It was definitely a treasure trove. I kind of think of it as the moon's closet -- this is where the moon hid all its secrets. It threw them into this closet at the poles.

"In fact, the books will have to be rewritten," he added.  "To me, the thing that's so exciting is that we don't know specifically where all this material came from and we don't know how old it is,"

Schultz says astronauts could use water-laden craters to refine drinking water and to create rocket fuel.

President Barack Obama is not planning to fund moon exploration. Schultz hopes these new discoveries will change that.

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