NASA Probe Discovers Huge Water Reserves On Moon

Scientists have theorized that there might be frozen water on the moon for decades—while water vapor quickly boils away on the moon's surface, frozen water was predicted to exist inside permanently shadowed polar craters as far back as the 1960s. Evidence has mounted for the existence of water in the last 10 years, but new findings from NASA confirm the presence of a whole lot of H2O.

Using data from a NASA radar that flew aboard India's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, scientists have detected ice deposits near the moon's north pole. NASA's Mini-SAR instrument, a lightweight, synthetic aperture radar, found more than 40 small craters with water ice. The craters range in size from 1 to 9 miles (2 to15 km) in diameter. Although the total amount of ice depends on its thickness in each crater, it's estimated there could be at least 1.3 trillion pounds (600 million metric tons) of water ice.

"The emerging picture from the multiple measurements and resulting data of the instruments on lunar missions indicates that water creation, migration, deposition and retention are occurring on the moon," said Paul Spudis, principal investigator of the Mini-SAR experiment at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston. "The new discoveries show the moon is an even more interesting and attractive scientific, exploration and operational destination than people had previously thought."

Photo by Paul Martinez

Effectively tapping into this supply would be essential to the construction of any lunar bases, if and when such colonies are ever launched. In the meantime, the more pertinent question is who owns it. At present, no nation currently claims ownership of any part of the moon; the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 established that the moon would be considered international waters. This may or may not continue to be true now that a valuable resource has been found (albeit not in a very convenient location) on the lunar surface.
Via:  NASA
rapid1 4 years ago

As far as a Lunar base or colony exists or is in development or even consideration I don't see much of a point. This is because as far as space distance goes the moon is reasonably close to the Earth. Maybe a telescope base on the Moon would enable somewhat further viewing directly of space objects constellations and planets somewhat further out. We already have independent satellite/robots which go much, much further though.

As for the Water found on the moon being a valuable resource this may be true. I think I would question the biological makeup of this "water" as it is being called. We know the moon has and does not have many basic elements like the Earth, otherwise it would have developed Faster than the Earth has. So would this "Water" be useful or is it of a different, lacking, or enhanced/changed cellular makeup?

Not to mention moving it would be quite a feat, and require dedicated new craft research and building to basically make gigantic transport vehicles to do so. Not to mention right now the government in many ways just has NASA as well as development by them on hold.

Marius Malek 4 years ago

I agree with Rapid. Trying to harvest this water source would be an amazing feat, but it's a worthless endeavor. However, I think they could at least set up a base there where they could conduct some experiments similar to those on the ISS. For those who don't know, the ISS is researching ways to make metal denser and stronger on Earth using less expensive methods and materials. They're also discovering how plants grow from day one in a zero G environment. Essentially, seeing how they form without gravity enables them to grow purely without constraints. NASA believes that this will further our understanding of the biology of the plants and flora on Earth. Not entirely relevant, but I think one of the coolest things is that they lit a match on the space station, and it burned in a perfect glowing circle, just like the sun. Anyway....

It sucks that NASA is having their funds cut. I can understand though, but I think for space exploration to truly set sail it needs to be privately enterprised. I think its the only way to get the ball rolling. 

gibbersome 4 years ago

Considering there's about 27 million billion tons of ice just in the Antarctic, 600 million tons is not a large number by any means, but more than enough to establish a base or even sustain a small town.

@Marius Agreed, until we can find a feasible way of space travel, any endeavors to harvest this water is going to be impractical. A more important resource on the Moon is Helium-3, which can be used in fusion reactors -- futuristic power plants that have been demonstrated in proof-of-concept though won't be available commercially for a few decades. Helium-3 is considered a safe, environmentally friendly fuel candidate for these generators, and while it is scarce on Earth it is plentiful on the moon.

Inspector 4 years ago

Time to start building a water powered base i guess :)

cheezit 4 years ago

I thought the soviets already had a moon base on the far side of the moon since the 70's.......

animatortom 4 years ago

Rapid1 might be right about the biological makeup of the water. What if there are dormant micro organisms that when exposed to human life, transform them into some form of horrific ancient creature?! :O That form of life could adapt and grow into the dominant species and take over mankind! AHHHH!! That would then make all conflicts here on Earth suddenly seem very trivial and pointless?

Seriously...If we can extract the pure H2O? It could be useful to create a sustainable livable Geo dome, which could then be a self sustaining habitat for a Lunar colony. Not only would that be cool, it would open a whole new world of exploration and science. Not only as an unobstructed observation post. Who knows the energy, minerals and other materials could also one day be solutions to a plethora of issues. There might even be a substance from the beginning of creation that would be a cure for cancer and other problems.

rapid1 4 years ago

Those are some great points anima. The availability of foreign substances, while as I mentioned in the H2O discussion may contain foreign elements which make it unusable for what we see water use as. However; this may also add extra uses to it as well as many new elements, minerals, substances etc on and from the moon.

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