The moon is a fascinating place, and scientists have just uncovered one strange mystery with regards to water on the lunar surface.
As we reported recently, scientists were surprised to find that water was spread out all over the moon rather than concentrated at the poles. And while this discovery has important academic implications, it is also fascinating, and disappointing, for how much it might impact future lunar missions, including the possibility of a moon base.
Ever since we landed on the moon in the 1960s and 70s, man has dreamed of going back there, perhaps this time to set up a permanent colony rather than just visit. And it is seen as an important step in an eventual trip to Mars. But a key part of setting up a colony is having access to resources, and this recent finding by scientists that water may not be in convenient locations could be a devastating blow to those hopes.
Moon water is important not just for drinking water, but also because it could be split into hydrogen and oxygen and used as fuel. If it were in a relatively easy to access place, these resources could prove vital to colonies, but if it is spread out and tough to reach as this latest research suggests, that could create complications.
It’s unclear how this finding may impact future lunar missions. But it will most likely cause scientists to change their approach in planning a future manned mission to the moon.
“Water on the Moon is of intense interest for many reasons,” said SwRI’s Dr. Michael Poston, a coauthor of the paper, “Widespread Distribution of OH/ H2O on the Lunar Surface Inferred from Spectral Data,” published in Nature Geoscience online. “When you split water molecules, you end up with oxygen and hydrogen, critical components for breathable air and rocket fuel. Hydroxyl (OH) is a more reactive relative to water and not as attractive as water in terms of supporting a lunar station.”