REALSPACE: Is there is or is there ain't?

Republibot 3.0
Republibot 3.0's picture

Thanks to president Obama, we're unlikely to get an answer to this question in our lifetimes, but scientists are once again saying there's water on the moon. This debate goes back and forth quite a bit - there is, there isn't, there is, there isn't, you're a jerk, your mom says you're a jerk, you mom says I'm good in bed, and then the punches begin flying - but short of actually going there, we'll never know.

Interestingly, one group is saying there's not only water on the moon, but ridiculously stupidly large amounts of it.

Heretofore, all discussions of lunar water have been talking about cometary ice that whacked into the moon, and got burried. This new group is saying that in fact Luna may have vast ammounts of water that formed at the same time as the moon itself did, and that it's not transplanted from anywhere.

The Apollo program concluded that water in lunar rocks and soil came to about one part per billion: that is for every 312,000 tons of moonrock, you'd get one ounce of water. The "Cometary Ice" discussions of the last decade don't change this at all, since they're talking about highly localized sources that are recent additions and hence more-or-less discrete relative to Lunar Geology (Selenology). This new study is saying that water levels could range from 64 per billion (One ounce to every parts 490 tons of rock) to five parts per million! (one ounce to every 100 tons of rock).

My math is always a bit weak, so if anyone wants to verify those numbers, I'd be quite appreciative.

This is pretty exciting news, since it means a moonbase could very likely be entirely self-sufficient in terms of water, and in terms of oxygen that can be easily extracted from it. Since water can easily be cracked in to rocket fuel (Hydrogen and oxygent separately) It also means that the moon could be used as a "Coaling Station" of sorts, to fuel spacecraft going to any planet in the solar system vastly, vastly cheaper and more efficiently than if we had to bring the fuel up from earth. Really, this is heady news.

Now if we just had a space program to make use of it...