Evidence of water found in moon crater

November 13, 2009 5:31:06 PM PST
NASA proudly told the world Friday that it struck liquid gold when their LCROSS mission crashed into a moon crater last month. They found water and ice in relative abundance -- and that is a very big deal.

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"It wasn't a Eureka moment, it was more like, 'Holy Cow,' every single day since impact," lead NASA researcher Anthony Colaprete said.

NASA found at least 25 gallons of water and ice ejected from the surface of the moon in a little fuzzy cloud.

The water and ice is so pure that if it were to be melted and filtered, it would be drinkable.

The water they found has other substances in it, like methane or possibly organics, a 2 billion-year-old stew recording the history of the universe.

NASA had seen the stuff before, as traces in moon rocks brought back by Apollo astronauts, but researchers at the time wrote it off as contamination.

"One of the scientists involved in evaluating early lunar samples was recently quoted as saying he was going to eat his shorts," University of California, Berkeley physicist Greg Delory said.

Water on the moon means humans could one day live off the land there and launch deeper space missions.

The total amount of it remains an educated guess, but whatever the amount, it is a lot more than anyone would have guessed just two months ago.

"It would be an interesting place to walk around, I think," Colaprete said.

As to where the water came from, scientists say perhaps comets or it may have formed naturally from the solar wind or maybe a combination.

There is the question of why it collects on the poles. One theory is that molecules heat up in warmer areas, bounce around the surface and get trapped in cold, dark craters.

NASA will release more information as it figures it out.

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