By ETHAN SIBBET
NASA released a peer-edited research paper entitled “Direct evidence of surface exposed water ice in the lunar polar regions” on Aug. 20, 2018 confirming that ice had been found on the moon.
Finding water on the moon is revolutionary. Water is, of course, a necessary requirement for life. The moon would be an essential stopping point for space travel, and the ideal way to get the materials for spaceships would be to mine them on the moon. This requires a significant base on the moon, which would only be possible if water was there already. In addition to supporting life, water is also the ingredient in our most efficient fuel, LOX.
For years, there has been discussion and hope about water being on the moon. Hundreds of studies have been done to determine where water has been or where it is likely to be, and they have found points that are likely to be water but could be just reflective rocks or something similar. The satellite Chandrayaan-1 was launched with infrared spectroscopy systems that would allow it to detect certain frequencies of light emitted by H2O; previous estimates were not accurate enough to determine the difference between that, HO, and H2. In many larger impact craters on the moon’s poles, the slope is high enough that it shadows the craters and creates ‘cold traps,’ where the temperature is cold enough to freeze water-i.e., less than 110 degrees K (Water freezes at 273 K on the earth; however, the lack of atmosphere on the moon reduces the freezing point significantly).
The satellite found that many of these locations have water. This crucial finding allows moon colonies to not bring all the water they will use with them. Not directly having to recycle or provide all the water will make moon colonies cheaper and easier to implement.