According to our companion site NASA Watch, where the news broke, the journal Science will publish three papers tomorrow from three independent spacecraft that confirm the Moon has an abundant supply of water. At the same time NASA will be holding a briefing 2 p.m. EDT to discuss the new findings.
These new findings come at a time when the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee has released it’s summary report and testified before Congress and for which everyone is waiting for the White House to make a decision. The question is, how will this new information affect the decision the White House will make with respect to U.S. launch capability and future exploration of the solar system? And what about the Canadian Space Agency role in all of this?
The Canadian Agency just released several requests for proposals where several of them deal specifically with the moon. A finding such as this could certainly help the agency move its plans forward considering the moon appears to be its next exploration target.
The three spacecraft in question are Deep Impact aka EPOXI, Cassini, and Chandrayaan-1. According to NASA Watch;
“The EPOXI paper says that water has been “unequivocally” confirmed and that “the entire lunar surface is hydrated during at least some portions of the lunar day”.
In another paper, previously unreleased 1999 flyby data from Cassini shows hydroxyl concentrations on “the sunlit face of the Moon”. Water was detected in concentrations as high as “10 to 1,000 parts per million” and according to the paper “Regardless of its origin, water is found on the lunar surface in areas previously thought to have been depleted in volatiles.”
The Chandrayaan-1 paper says “data suggests that the formation and retention of OH and H2O is an ongoing surficial process. OH/H2O production processes may feed polar cold traps and make the lunar regolith a candidate source of volatiles for human exploration.”