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Moon Hosts Surprising Abundance of Water - More Than Previously Thought
Posted In: NASA Articles  5/31/11
By: Chris Capps

Moon_5.jpg
When it was first discovered that the Lunar surface had water spread throughout it, scientists were baffled, but nowhere near as interested or as confused as now when theories are beginning to suggest the Moon may have as much water as Earth proportionally.  What would a Lunar surface rich in much needed water mean for future exploration?

A team of scientists including James Van Orman of Case Western University and Alberto Saal have suggested the Moon we have always thought to be a dead rock orbiting our planet in the void of space may not only have water on it as was discovered in 2008, but may in fact have water deposits so rich that they could be big news for future expeditions to our closest orbital neighbor.

Previously, scientists posited that the simple deposits on the moon would have been incredibly difficult to harvest in such small quantities in order to sustain a colony on the Moon.  Life would be harsh, and one of the greatest things visiting colonists would constantly struggle with would be the acquisition of water for food growing and drinking.  But contrary to this, scientists also had a number of highly ambitious projects set forth for the water on the Moon, including the creation of a rocket fuel enrichment facility utilizing the hydrogen from the water to create enriched rocket fuel.

Essentially the theory behind this moon base proposal was that the Lunar surface would have several colonists on it all working together to harvest water and separate out the hydrogen and oxygen.  These two elements would then be stored and used separately to sustain future launches outside of Earth’s orbit in a way that would in the end be a fraction of the cost it would normally take to haul the individual components into space.  By reducing the weight of fuel a rocket heading to Mars required, it would essentially cut costs to getting a manned ship to the Red Planet significantly.  Of course the matter of building a moon base in itself is no small venture.

But the abundance of water now theorized to be in the Moon suggests an entirely new possibility.  Not only might there be water for life to the colonists themselves, this discovery may in fact be part of a far larger plan to get human footprints to the next step in space exploration - the surface of Mars.

Although funding in the space program has waned in recent years, public interest in colonizing the Moon and beyond is something that will likely never die for as long as the Human race continues to have a desire to wander and explore the mysteries of the Universe.

So how long before we take advantage of this discovery and start sending people to the moon?  In 2010 NASA suggested it may not be depending on the government for continued visits to the Moon, and as private companies begin to pick up the slack left by waning public funding for these research projects it seems they will be the ones to take advantage of this venture as humanity continues to reach for the stars.


 

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