Scientists recently revealed an astounding discovery to the public; There is ice on the Moon’s poles. This is indeed ground-breaking for future missions to our celestial next-door neighbor.
For centuries is has been assumed that the moon has been, and always will be, just a barren rock far off in the sky. However, starting in 2008, trace amounts of water have been discovered on the moon in the form of small drops of moisture clinging to the surface of moon rocks brought home from expeditions.
Most scientists simply brush this aside, explaining that it must have been contamination. However, Dr. Shuai Li of the University of Hawaii was not content with this vague dismissal. Upon further investigation carried out in Li’s most recent study, “Direct Evidence of Exposed Water ice in the Lunar Polar Regions”, he discovered “direct and definitive evidence” of ice on the moon. When asked how he felt about the discovery, Li said, “It is a big surprise and great lesson to me.”
Li acquired his data from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper, or M3, which was onboard the Indian Chandrayaan 1 Mission launched in October of 2008. The mapper measured the amounts of light reflected off of the surface of the Moon. M3 detected many spots along the polar regions of the Moon where no light has ever touched the surface.
Fortunately, Li was able to see into these permanently Shaded Regions (PSR’s) through the light that bounces off of the natural topography of the surface. There they discovered what had been hiding under the noses of dozens of scientists before them: Ice.
This will change the way that we plan future missions to the moon. Indeed, many students at Central aspiring to one day become explorers of the final frontier will have a strong advantage over those who came before them. The ice can be used not just for a near infinite source of drinking water, but also in rocket fuel.
Indeed, water is a crucial ingredient in the production of Hydrazine fuel, and is very difficult to transport in large amounts out of the atmosphere. Now all we need to ship out to the moon are the remaining ingredients and…Presto! There’s now a gas station on the moon. This can be used as a sort of cosmic rest stop for astronauts on their way to mars, or maybe even another solar system one day.
This discovery has re-sparked the creative juices of many scientists around the globe, opening up new doors towards moon colonization and mining facilities. Of course, as always, nothing is quite set in stone yet. However, don’t be surprised if in a couple of decades men will have accomplished these great feats. In the wise words of Dr. Li, “If you do not look, you can always get nothing. But if you take a look at what makes you feel curious, the worst result is getting nothing. This is one of the most fascinating parts of science.”
To read Dr. Li’s full paper, click here
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