NASA scientists on Thursday announced in a press conference that they have discovered water in the form of ice on the surface of moon when they slammed two spacecraft into moon crater last year.
They added that the crash not only led to the discovery of several hundred pounds of water, which might be enough to sustain visiting human explorers, but it also revealed mercury, silver and other chemicals, not known to be there before.
While commenting on the discovery, chief lunar scientist at NASA, Michael Wargo, said in his press statement at a NASA teleconference, "NASA has convincingly confirmed the presence of water ice and characterized its patchy distribution in permanently shadowed regions of the moon. This major undertaking is the one of many steps NASA has taken to better understand our solar system, its resources, and its origin, evolution, and future."
He added, that the "water ice in the ejecta-plume, is in abundance that was about 50 percent greater than our initial estimates."
Last year, in October NASA decided to look for traces of water on the surface of moon and for that it sent out two empty spacecraft to crash into its permanently shadowed region of the southern surface.
Scientists added that the crash not only led to the discovery of several hundred pounds of water, which might be enough to sustain visiting human explorers, but it also revealed mercury, silver and other chemicals, not known to be there before.
The impact of the crash sent up to 4,000 to 6,000 kilograms of lunar dust, vapor and other compounds racing into space.
The impact revealed presence of water in form of solid ice and abundance of other substances like ammonia, methane and hydrogen gas on moon’s surface that could be used as fuel there.
Findings may tell solar system history
As per Peter Schultz, a professor of geological sciences at Brown University in the northeastern U.S. state of Rhode Island, who’s also a member of the LCROSS science team, finding water on moon is good but this discovery should be used to find out more about the history of the solar system.
"We go to Antarctica to study past atmospheres and to look for evidence of past impacts and changes of climate. Ice on the moon is probably hiding similar clues, but instead of illuminating Earth's climate, it may tell us about the climate history of the solar system," said prof. Schultz.
Adding further, he said, "We've got to look at the bigger picture. Is [the moon] something we want to save and study before we start exploiting it?"
These new LCROSS findings feature in series of papers published in the Oct. 22 issue of the journal 'Science.'