This is a huge discovery for space exploration!
A week ago, NASA announced that a major discovery had been made on the moon. Speculation ran wild, with theories ranging from alien life to the moon’s cheese composition. While none of those fanciful ideas were correct, the new discovery is big enough to affect all future missions to the moon and, eventually, to Mars. Water has been found on the surface of the moon, including in parts of the moon that are illuminated by our sun.
The water was detected by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been in use since 2009, as well as NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy airborne telescope, called SOFIA. If easily removable from the pockets that it rests in, the water could be a huge resource for the Artemis Program, the NASA endeavor that will put the first woman and first man since 1972 on the surface of the moon. Scheduled for 2024, Artemis could set the stage for future lunar missions and even commercial trips to the moon.
And the most exciting aspect of this discovery is the potential ability to use the moon as a launching point for other manned and unmanned explorations.
Native water would allow for a spacecraft to stop on the moon for water and, with some infrastructure, possibly fuel. To break out of Earth’s gravity, hundreds of thousands of gallons of rocket fuel are needed. This means that most of the weight on a spacecraft is fuel, not the equipment. If it were possible to store fuel and water on the moon and relaunch against the moon’s much weaker gravity, future space trips could carry supplies and crew much more efficiently.
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