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NASA: Indeed, yes, we found water!

Staff writer ▼ | November 13, 2009
The argument that the moon is a dry place no longer holds water. The secrets of the moon billions of years old are now being revealed to the delight of scientists and space enthusiasts.
Moon
MoonThe argument that the moon is a dry place no longer holds water. The secrets of the moon billions of years old are now being revealed to the delight of scientists and space enthusiasts.


"We are ecstatic! Indeed, yes, we found water!" said Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS project scientist and principal investigator at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. Preliminary data from the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) indicates that the mission successfully uncovered water during the October 9, 2009 impacts into the permanently shadowed region of Cabeus cater near the moon's south pole.

The impact created by the LCROSS Centaur upper stage rocket created a two-part plume of material from the bottom of the crater. The first part was a high angle plume of vapor and fine dust and the second a curtain of heavier material. This material has not seen sunlight in billions of years.

Since the impacts, the LCROSS science team has been working almost nonstop analyzing the huge amount of data the spacecraft collected. The team concentrated on data from the satellite's spectrometers, which provide the most definitive information about the presence of water. A spectrometer examines light emitted or absorbed by materials that helps identify their composition.

"Multiple lines of evidence show water was present in both the high angle vapour plume and the ejecta curtain created by the LCROSS Centaur impact. The concentration and distribution of water and other substances requires further analysis, but it is safe to say Cabeus holds water," said Colaprete.

The team took the known near infrared spectral signatures of water and other materials and compared them to the spectra collected by the LCROSS near infrared spectrometer of the impact.

"We were only able to match the spectra from LCROSS data when we inserted the spectra for water," said Colaprete. "No other reasonable combination of other compounds that we tried matched the observations. The possibility of contamination from the Centaur also was ruled out."

"It turns out the moon harbours many secrets, and LCROSS has added a new layer to our understanding," said Michael Wargo, chief lunar scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

What other secrets will the moon reveal? The analysis continues!

Contributed by: Joana Rodeiro


 

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