The conclusive results are in….the LCROSS mission has successfully found water on the lunar surface!
Although the plume from the satellite’s upper-stage rocket impact into Cabeus crater at the moon’s south pole was not immediately visible, there was still enough ejected material to be analyzed by LCROSS’ instruments. After reviewing the data over the past few weeks the mission team has officially released the news: there is definitely water on the moon.
Craters at the moon’s south pole have areas that are in permanent shadow….because of the angle of sunlight hitting the moon and the way the moon is positioned, these shadows have kept the craters cold and dark for literally four billion years. They are some of the coldest places among all the planets, in fact, and the material they hold is like a time capsule to the state of the early days of the solar system. If water, in the form of ice, was to be found anywhere on the moon it was going to be there.
The discovery of water on the moon is important, as it indicates that there may be more such resources for use by future lunar missions as sustainable drinking water as well as raw material for fuels.
Approximately 25 gallons of water were discovered in the spectroscopic analysis of the impact plume.
“We’re unlocking the mysteries of our nearest neighbor and by extension the solar system. It turns out the moon harbors many secrets, and LCROSS has added a new layer to our understanding.”
– Michael Wargo, NASA chief lunar scientist
Read more about the findings in the official release.