Nasa’s experiment last month to find water on the Moon was a major success, US scientists have announced.
The space agency smashed a rocket and probe into a large crater at the lunar south pole, hoping to kick up ice.
Scientists who have studied the data now say instruments trained on the impact plume saw copious quantities of water vapour.
One researcher described this as the equivalent of “a dozen two-gallon buckets” of water.
The 1.6km-high plume of debris was kicked up by the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) last month when it crashed into Cabeus crater.
“We’re unlocking the mysteries of our nearest neighbour and, by extension, the Solar System,” said Michael Wargo, chief lunar scientist at Nasa’s headquarters in Washington DC.
“The Moon harbours many secrets, and LCROSS has added a new layer to our understanding.”
The identification of water-ice in the impact plume is important for purely scientific reasons, but also because a supply of water on the Moon would be a vital resource for future human exploration.
Finally some useful research from NASA, BBC reports. Now let’s get that space-elevator hooked up to a permanent base.