NASA confirms water on the moon – may fuel private space race

November 13, 2009, By Thomas Antony

If you remember, last month, NASA had sent a rocket stage and a spacecraft on a kamikaze dash to the moon in the quest to find water. It seems all the hard work paid off. Today, some very happy NASA scientists announced that they have found tell-tale signs of water on the Southern pole of the moon in the form of ice and vapor. After the rocket stage smashed into the moon, the trailing spacecraft flew through the plume and detected clear signs for around 26 gallons of water mostly as vapor.

Water on the moon

On the other hand, NASA’s discovery may have raised the stakes for the multi-million dollar Google Lunar X Prize being conducted by Google and the X Prize Foundation. The $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE is an unprecedented international competition that challenges and inspires engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. $20 million will be awarded to the first team to land a privately funded spacecraft on the moon and transmit a required set of high definition videos and images from the moon. Bonus prizes exist of $10 million for detection of water. Until today’s announcement, it was uncertain if this bonus would be obtainable.

This new confirmation is a revolutionary discovery for spaceflight in general. “The presence of significant quantities of ice on the lunar surface catapults the Moon from an interesting waypoint to a critical launching pad for humanity’s exploration of the cosmos,” said X PRIZE CEO and Chairman Peter Diamandis. Now, there is a new reason to go to the moon. Its no longer just a dead rock. It is a reservoir of ice collected over billions of years! The presence of water would prove to be a very valuable assets for space exploration. Water could be both used for drinking as well as to make rocket fuel by splitting it into hydrogen and oxygen and also use the oxygen for breathing. While the distribution of water on the moon is still not clear, it is confirmed that there is definitely water on the poles.

Hopefully, we will live to see the expansion of humankind out of this planet. Maybe this is that tiny step, which will finally us propel us beyond the grasp of our home planet.

Source : TheWashingtonPost

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