Saturday, October 23, 2010

Newsy: Scientists Say Water on Moon Could Support Humans

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Just over a year ago, NASA sent two probes to crash into the moon, hoping to find water under the surface. What they found was not just some water, but maybe enough to support a manned mission.

“Not only is there water on the moon, which we learned last November. But there is a lot of it. Billions of gallons across the entire surface of the moon.”(MSNBC)

The results of a NASA probe prove far better than anyone had imagined. The discovery of lots of water just beneath the moon’s surface is raising the specter that a manned mission living ON THE MOON, is a real possibility.

We’re analyzing coverage from MSNBC, National Geographic, ABC and TIME.

First, to the discovery. MSNBC’s Chris Jansing talks with an astronomer about the find. Mercury, silver, sulpher and methane: “Rather than carrying everything we need to the moon to make it possible to live there, we need to learn to live off the land, if you will. ... We can use that to create rocket fuels, we can use that to create the oxygen that we breathe and we can use the other elements that we find there...”

National Geographic says, this is a first step that begs further discovery. A NASA scientist agrees, and says, the next step in discovery is something we’d do right here on terra firma: "We go to Antarctica to study past atmospheres and to look for evidence of past impacts and changes of climate. Ice on the moon is probably hiding similar clues...We've got to look at the bigger picture. Is [the moon] something we want to save and study before we start exploiting it?"

ABC’s John Berman reports, all of this would be more exciting, if the moon were on the U.S. government’s docket: “The thing is right now, the US has no plans to visit the moon. President Obama cancelled the mission to go there. (Obama) “I have to say, pretty bluntly right now, we’ve been there before. ... In the near term, it might be China or India who gets to quench their thirst. Both have pledged to reach the moon in the next 15 years.”

Still, TIME magazine notes, let’s not get carried away. It’s not like the man on the moon turned on a spigot: “...5% by weight of the debris cloud blasted into the lunar sky by the Centaur booster. ‘That's about twice as wet as the Sahara,’ said [a] principal investigator of the LCROSS mission. That would be faint praise if you weren't talking about a world long considered to be without any water at all.”

So what do you think of the discovery? Reason to relaunch? Or are there more pressing matters to attend to here on Earth?

Writer: Jim Flink


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