Saturday, 14 November 2009

A bottle of moon water, please!

[image courtesy of NASA]

The NASA image, released yesterday, shows a plume of dust raised by a projectile deliberately crashed into the Moon's surface. The dust cloud was analyzed and found to contain molecules of water.
When I was a young boy they told me that the Moon was made of green cheese and that there was no water on the Moon. They were were wrong on both counts. There's a message in there somewhere.

The amount of water discovered in the dust cloud was not very much; some 100 litres all told in that light grey plume that you may just about make out if you can squint at the screen at the right angle.
Obviously for water to exist on the Moon it must be frozen and the source of it must lie somewhere under the dust in the shadow of the crater where no sun ever shines. What I think is amazing about this discovery, which confirms a similar discovery by India, is that the Moon's water probably comes, like the Moon itself, from our own precious and wonderful blue planet, the Earth.
When we return to the Moon, for now there is some real point to returning there, and we bore into the frozen reservoir of Moon-ice will we find any evidence of life? An immense question. The answer may well change the way we see ourselves and define our new role in the Universe.


Dominic Rivron said...

Yes, life on the moon. That would be quite something - and would confound all the assumptions we tend to make. It's the last place off-earth anyone would look for it.

Annotated Margins said...

Life on the moon... perhaps. Now that we are discovering planets in systems too far away to matter much to us, I wonder about our motivations behind exploring our own neighborhood. If indeed there is water on Luna, we could no better manage resources there than we do here on Earth. Fomalhaut--for some of us it seems an impossiblity for there not to be other life in the universe. But boring, drilling, exploding... if we know beyond any doubt that we are not exclusive, what would we gain?

Gerald (Ackworth born) said...

I never liked green cheese anyway.

Poet in Residence said...

Thanks for the comments and observations. I think you're probably wise to avoid green cheese Gerald.
AM's question "...What would we gain?" is something we'll have to wait and see in the uncertain future of when and if. President Reagan thought we might gain 'peace on Earth' if some little green men turned up or so he told the Russian president.