LCROSS Finds More Water Than Expected on Moon

LCROSS Finds More Water Than Expected on Moon

NASA’s Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) mission confirmed that there is water at the south pole of the Moon — more than expected — according to a NASA press conference yesterday. The results are published in the journal Science today.

The Centaur upper stage of the rocket that launched LCROSS and its companion spacecraft, the Lunar Reconnnaissance Orbiter, was targeted to impact a crater on the south pole of the Moon last year. LCROSS was able to observe the impact for a few minutes before it, too, impacted the Moon. Michael Wargo, chief lunar scientist for NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, characterized the material that the Centaur impacted as “fluffy snow-covered dirt.” He said the Moon’s south pole has some of the coldest temperatures in the solar system and can “preserve water ice in a vacuum for billions of years.”

Wargo reported that they definitely saw water ice in the ejecta plume created by the Centaur impact, and it was 50 percent more than their initial estimates.

Presentation materials from the briefing are available on the LCROSS website, and an audio recording is available for the next 14 days by calling 1-888-566-0674. The New York Times has a nice summary.

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