|Is there enough water on the moon to sustain future astronauts?
The question has important implications if
humanity hopes to use the Moon as a future outpost.
Last year, to help find out,
into a permanently shadowed crater near the
Moon's South Pole.
New analyses of the resulting plume from
Cabeus crater indicate more water than
previously thought, possibly about six percent.
instrument on the separate
LRO spacecraft that
measures neutrons indicates that even larger lunar expanses -- most not even permanently shadowed -- may also contain a significant amount of buried frozen water.
Pictured above from LRO, areas in false-color blue indicate the presence of soil relatively rich in
which is thought likely bound to sub-surface water ice.
Conversely, the red areas are likely dry.
The location of the Moon's South Pole is also digitally marked on the image.
How deep beneath the surface the
ice crystals permeate is still unknown, as well as how difficult it would be to mine the crystals and purify them into
I. Mitrofanov et al.,