Lunar Surprise: H2O Discovered on Moon's Surface

Substance is water, but not "your grandmother's water" scientist says

By Maya Pope-Chappell
|  Thursday, Sep 24, 2009  |  Updated 3:29 PM PDT
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Forty years after man set foot on the moon, water has been discovered on lunar soil, scientists say.
 
Three different space probes have confirmed water on the moon’s surface, according to the online journal Science­.

 
Jessica Sunshine, a University of Maryland astronomer who discovered the water, told NPR that the moisture seems to be a very thin film of molecules stuck to the moon’s surface.
 
"It's not liquid water, it's not frozen water and it's not gaseous water,” she says. “It's not your grandmother's water on the moon. It's a completely different mindset. You sort of have to throw out everything you think of by that phrase."
 
Although the amount of water is small, this discovery came as a surprise to scientists who have long thought of the moon as bone-dry.
 
The Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft launched in India last October, discovered the first sign of water on the moon’s soil. Scientist double-checked the findings with two other space probes, NASA’s Cassini, which passed the moon in 1999, and Deep Impact, which went by the moon in June.
 
The discovery could be a potential resource for astronauts, namely drinking water and rocket fuel. 
 
NASA has been working on a plant to return to the moon by 2020, but the plan is currently being reviewed by the Obama administration.

Get more: Science, NPR

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