Friday, October 22, 2010

Moon has lots of water

LOS ANGELES - WHEN Nasa blasted a hole in the moon last year in search of water, scientists figured there would be a splash. They just didn't know how big.

Now new results from the Hollywood-esque moonshot reveal lots of water in a crater where the sun never shines - 41 gallons of ice and vapour. That may not sound like much - it's what a typical washing machine uses for a load - but it's almost twice as much as researchers had initially measured and more than they ever expected to find.

The estimate represents only what scientists can see from the debris plume that was kicked up from the high-speed crash near the south pole by a Nasa spacecraft on Oct 9, 2009.

Mission chief scientist Anthony Colaprete of the NASA Ames Research Centre calculates there could be 1 billion gallons of water in the crater that was hit - enough to fill 1,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Dr Colaprete likened the crater to an 'oasis in a lunar desert'. 'The resources are there and potentially usable for future missions,' he said, adding there could be more such craters at both the moon's poles.

Proof that the moon is dynamic and not a dry, desolate world offers hope for a possible future astronaut outpost where water on site could be used for drinking or making rocket fuel. -- AP

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