Moon's water could be used on missions

Water ice on the moon's south pole (left) and north pole (right) as detected by a NASA instrument. Image: NASA.
Water ice on the moon's south pole (left) and north pole (right) as detected by a NASA instrument. Image: NASA.
Whenever space agencies get around to sending manned missions to the moon again, astronauts will have plenty of water to drink. 

    For the first time, scientists say they have proof of water ice on the moon’s surface. The ice is in lunar craters on the southern pole and sparsely spread on the northern pole, according to NASA. It is in regions where the temperature is never above -250 degrees Fahrenheit. The moon’s rotation axis has only a slight tilt, so sunlight never reaches these areas.
    NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3), on board an Indian Space Research Organization spacecraft, identified the signatures.
    The instrument “not only picked up the reflective properties we’d expect from ice,” the NASA statement explained, “but was able to directly measure the distinctive way its molecules absorb infrared light, so it can differentiate between liquid water or vapor and solid ice.”
    The water is within the top millimeters of the moon’s surface, so it could be a resource for future expeditions, according to the space agency.  Previously, scientists have also detected water beneath the lunar surface.
    “The abundance and distribution of ice on the moon are distinct from those on other airless bodies in the inner solar system such as Mercury and Ceres, which may be associated with the unique formation and evolution process of our moon,” scientists wrote in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
    The research is "Direct Evidence of Surface Exposed Water Ice in the Lunar Polar Regions". It was done by a team of scientists, led by Shuai Li of the University of Hawaii and Brown University and including Richard Elphic from NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley.


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